Heritage Coffee Brewers

Lenny Ann Low
Beautiful and understated: Heritage Coffee Brewers feels calm, ordered and artisanal.
Beautiful and understated: Heritage Coffee Brewers feels calm, ordered and artisanal. Photo: Christopher Pearce

1A Lackey Street Summer Hill, New South Wales 2130

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Opening hours Mon-Fri, 6.30am-3.30pm; Sat-Sun, 7am-4pm
Features Cheap Eats, Family friendly
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 0415 945 651

Heritage Coffee Brewers is not a shouty kind of cafe. Its walls, counter and shelves are painted a restrained grey. Its street signage is also restrained and the reclaimed wooden tables are beautiful and understated. When you arrive, staff do not rush at you with overblown greetings of fake cheer.

When we walk in the door, a man in a leather-strapped apron quickly and quietly delivers menus and water (with classy squat glasses) before returning to studious activity near the till. Central Perk this is not.

Heritage Coffee Roasters' feel is calm, ordered and artisanal. The cafe, which opened in January, is owned by Andrew Carter and Dan Kim who have previously whipped up fine brews at The Source, Bean Drinking and Brewtown Newtown.

The ricotta, fig and honey sippet.
The ricotta, fig and honey sippet. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Regulars chat away to Carter and Kim while ordering the exquisitely displayed dense peanut-butter crunch cups, ricotta, strawberry and lemon muffins or vast sea-salt chocolate cookies to go with their takeaway coffees. 

Coffee, which is taken very seriously here, arrives at our table in beautiful matt, dark grey cups by ceramicist Malcolm Greenwood. Two flat whites and a long black, from Mecca and Square Mile beans, are creamy and spectacularly rich. Filter V60 (hot or iced) and batch brew are also available.

Perched at a honey-hued wooden window table, we scan the menus printed with a 19th-century image of Summer Hill village's main street. No artisanal coffee houses in those days but plenty of horse-drawn carriages and gas street-lights.

Sausage sippet with pork sausage, herbed tomato and bean stew.
Sausage sippet with pork sausage, herbed tomato and bean stew. Photo: Christopher Pearce

The cafe's brightest colours are in the food and drinks. In particular, Heritage's specialty, the sippet. A dish that hails from the 17th century, it was toast or fried bread dipped or covered in gravy or soup, a cheap but filling meal.

Reinvented here on toasted Brickfields bread, it features lavish layers of pork sausage, herbed tomato and bean stew, or poached eggs, double-smoked ham, spinach and hollandaise sauce in a benedict version. 

We've already oohed and ahhed over the opulent strawberry milkshake (the peanut butter chocolate fudge version sounds equally deluxe) with real strawberries. We have also sucked down three kinds of house-made sodas in cute glass bottles. The light but fragrant elderberry flavour is slightly medicinal tasting but things improve with the sparklingly restorative elderflower and blood orange and cardamom.

Coffee cups by ceramicist Malcolm Greenwood.
Coffee cups by ceramicist Malcolm Greenwood. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Then begins a sippet-off where three adults and one child sample all six versions on the menu.

First, 12-hour slow-cooked beef cheek, green kale, pickled carrot, cheddar, fennel and radish salad. Then the pork sausage, eggs Benedict and mushroom varieties. All are fab. Sure, they're basically things on toast but created thoughtfully with lush, fresh ingredients. The winner is the sausage sippet, rich and meaty with a smoky bean stew.

Then, to the quiet amazement of leather-strap apron man (who, later, turns out to be co-owner Kim), we order the ricotta, fig and honey, and the sweet strawberry sippets. Both come with fat spoonfuls of ricotta, lemon-flavoured in the fig and honey version. In the excitement of fresh figs, local honey, fresh basil and strawberry sauce, we declare a dead heat.

At nearby tables, we spy on non-sippet options including a Korean pulled-pork burger (14-hour pork shoulder, kimchi slaw) and a Weber Bilby burger served with crispy chips. 

We have no room for the enticing array of biscuits, banana bread, croissants or peanut butter cups. They are ordered as takeaway with more fine coffees. 

THE LOW-DOWN
THE PICKS
Sausage sippet, ricotta, fig and honey sippet, strawberry milkshake
THE COFFEE
Mecca and Square Mile for espressos, Filter V60 and batch brew available
THE LOOK
Grey-hued Shaker-style simplicity
THE SERVICE
Industrious, helpful

http://www.heritagecoffeebrewers.com/