ONA Marrickville cafe review

ONA's spin on avocado on toast.
ONA's spin on avocado on toast. Photo: Louise Kennerley

140 Marrickville Rd Marrickville, NSW 2204

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
Features Cheap and cheerful
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Phone 02 6162 3321

Wow, Marrickville. Just when we thought this suburb had its fill of great cafes, a fresh batch open their doors. Excellent recent additions include Double Tap on Smith Street, Matinee on Addison, and Labld on Illawarra – all great options. Now, one of the ACT's favourite cafe/roaster crews, ONA Coffee, has brought ONA Marrickville to postcode 2204.

Manager and head barista Isaac Kim has moved to Sydney from The Cupping Room, one of ONA's Canberra cafes, to run what he dubs "a coffee experience". The phrase may seem a little pretentious but they do well at living up to it, with the whole set-up geared towards giving punters extensive options, expert intel, coffee tailored to individual tastes and prime position to watch and chat to the baristas as they work.

It feels like a casual cellar door visit – only the tasting notes and terroir talk is about coffee instead of wine.

The new Marrickville venue.
The new Marrickville venue. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The space

The cafe has been designed with the "coffee experience" objective in mind, too, with a long counter running the length of the narrow room – baristas on one side, customers at high stools on the other.

The colour palette is minimal – mainly tones of light beech, eucalyptus green and touches of black. The few seats out front are a good sunny-day option for solo diners, too.

Kingfish smorrebrod.
Kingfish smorrebrod. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The food

Despite being relegated to second fiddle, the food holds its own. A brief menu focuses on fresh, light flavours and lovely plating. One highlight is the smorrebrod: Bread and Butter Project's rye topped with lemon aioli, thin slices of pickled fennel, house-cured kingfish, capers and a thatch of fresh herbs, with a boiled egg and lemon wedge on the side.

A rye waffle topped with orange mascarpone, stewed rhubarb, pomegranate, walnuts and maple syrup makes a pretty picture but would have tasted better if the rhubarb were warm. Cult faves Short Stop doughnuts and Butterbing biscuit sandwiches round out the sweets offering.

Filter coffee being made.
Filter coffee being made. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The coffee

Four blends are available for milk coffees, with ONA's own Raspberry Candy a popular choice for its unusual sweet, fruity notes. You'll want to try more than one blend to compare. For black coffees there's a list of single origins, and a reserve list of premium coffee that's been pre-portioned and frozen at its peak. It can cost up to $14 for a filter (mortgage be damned).

On one visit, we had a washed process geisha from Kotowa Estate, Panama, which was mellow and delicate – with the promised notes of white tea and nectarine clear as day. The ceramic cups by Linburn Handmade are a nice touch, too – the shape used varying according to the brew.

The team of baristas is keen and capable of answering any coffee questions – from milk used (Riverina Gold), to pouring techniques, latte art, temperature, producers, hardware and accessories (there are some serious coffee gadgets for sale, alongside bags of ONA beans) – and they do it in an easy-going approachable way.

The low-down

The booze You'll be too busy sampling coffees to notice the lack of booze.

Avo index Rye with avocado, charcoal labna​, poached egg, a sprinkle of togarashi and fresh herbs, $18.

Overheard "I'm sitting on about two litres of coffee; I think I should take a break."

Loving Max-level coffee geekdom and discussions.

Not getting Why the food menu doesn't give coffee matching suggestions – seems this would be the place.

Caffe latte from $4

Score Two cups

Food 6/10; Coffee 5/5; Experience 4/5