Top five specialty coffee spots in Sydney

Barista Sean McManus makes coffee at Single Origin, Surry Hills.
Barista Sean McManus makes coffee at Single Origin, Surry Hills. Photo: Brianne Makin

Dear Melbourne, you may think you have the world's best coffee, but we're giving you a serious run for your money. Look no further than these five places. Kind regards, Sydney.

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy

First, there was Coffee Alchemy – jewel of Marrickville – and now the city's got a taste. The beautiful Art Deco space with its lead-light windows and brass light fittings is standing-room only, but there are tables available out the front. And best of all, you're halfway between Gumption and Aesop so you're in smell heaven. Caveat lector: the queues for the coffee are something of legend, but for good reason. The two machines pump out full-bodied, richly oiled espresso, and did we mention the pour-overs? Try one and you're charged for the day.

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy.
Gumption by Coffee Alchemy. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Shop 11/412-414 George St, Sydney, (02) 9232 4199, gumptioncoffee.com

Mecca Espresso, Ultimo

This massive ground-floor converted warehouse has played host to the Mecca crew for more than four years. And while you can happily eat here, it really is all about the coffee. Like anywhere worth its beans these days, you've got a lot of choice with the way you order – whether that's batched or espresso, Dark Horse or Hermanos Motta. There are even coffee subscriptions available for the housebound enthusiast, as well as AeroPress machines and hand-grinders. Basically, it's caffeine nerd's paradise.

A barista prepares pour-over coffee at Gumption by Coffee Alchemy.
A barista prepares pour-over coffee at Gumption by Coffee Alchemy. Photo: Christopher Pearce

646 Harris St, Ultimo, (02) 9280 4204, meccacoffee.com.au

Single Origin Roasters

The good folks down at Single O have been something of a driving force when it comes to the Sydney coffee scene. Their first cafe on Reservoir Street has always been a magnet for off-duty baristas and coffee fiends. As they've expanded, they've managed to hone their product, concentrating on their Botany Roastery which now supplies a number of excellent Sydney cafes. They've also just set up a brand new hole-in-the wall espresso joint in the city and, interestingly, they also helped out with the world's first purpose-built milk-on-tap system. It's always a great day when you can finish a sentence with the words "plumbed milk".

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60-64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, (02) 9211 0665, singleoriginroasters.com.au

Edition Coffee Roasters

Everybody's talking about the breakfasts here – a magic mix of Nordic and Japanese, with dishes such as the awesomely named Yakuza's breakfast. And no, it's not just for heavily tattooed mobsters missing their pinkie fingers, nor is it laced with whisky and cigar ash. It's just tasty pancakes. But for us, the real drawcard is the coffee, pure and simple. Whether that's the cold-batched gear from Elixir Specialty Coffee ("looks like whisky, feels like tea, made from coffee") to a straight-up espresso from owner/barista Daniel Jackson, it's a guaranteed straight-up, complex and perfectly-tamped-and-pulled win.

Barista Reuben Mardan at Sample Coffee.
Barista Reuben Mardan at Sample Coffee. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

265 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, editioncoffeeroasters.com

Sample Coffee

It's little more than a shoebox just down the road from MoVida and Vini, but the gear they're executing from this tiny site is next-level. Rock up to the tiny wooden bar and check out the coffee specials scrawled over the multitude of blackboards around the room, or take the pain out of it and let them make the decision for you. Whatever you choose, you can bet it'll be full-bodied and perfectly extracted. They've also just opened a new store in St Peters, where they're roasting on site.

Edition Coffee Roasters in Darlinghurst.
Edition Coffee Roasters in Darlinghurst. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

118a Devonshire St, Surry Hills, (02) 9517 3963, samplecoffee.com.au