Sydney Coffee – 2011-2012

As I’ve been going through my archives to bring this site up to date, there are some cafes in my past that I’ve visited, but am unlikely to revisit for various reasons. A selection of cafes will be listed here where a full blog entry wouldn’t be substantial.

2011 was also a time when I had just started learning about specialty coffee and developed an interest into understanding coffee. Before then, I was a milk coffee drinker. During and after, I began to prefer black coffees. Through this there were trends I went through with the coffee industry, some which will be noted here, and others in full posts. But enough reflection, here are some pictures of coffee!

Flat whites were my standard order, and I judged the quality of coffee from milk drinks. It was rather difficult and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I took pictures of my coffee journeys, and to this day, I still recall most of the places that I took my pictures of coffee from. I searched for personality and uniqueness in cafes to find places that would become my regular haunts. Toby’s Estate was one that I was very interested in as they had an onsite roastery as well as espresso classes, but were too busy on the weekend for me.

This was from their Bondi Junction coffee bar, where the staff poured their rosettas so beautifully! The Camperdown branch as well as this one were fairly consistent with their latte art, and their cups are branded, making this a no-brainer when it comes to remembering where I had these. They also had a pretty consistent dark ring of crema on the outside, which meant that the first sip was always punchy – I liked it this way!

Workshop Espresso is a little hole in the wall in Town Hall with a huge takeaway line and very little space to sit down and eat. On occasion, when I did feel like treating myself though, I would sit in to watch how the staff worked. Serving all their coffee in brown cups, the added detail of their wooden benches and tables is what makes the coffee distinctive here from other locations. I did end up drinking a lot of espressos here, and eventually the baristas recognised me and would enjoy talking about the flavours of coffee with me. It was also the place where I decided that I would drink as much coffee from as many different places as possible to further develop my palate so that I could one day be awesome and be able to tell the region a coffee came from after drinking it!

Bean Drinking, a popular cafe in Crows Nest, was relatively new when I first visited. They’re also the only place in NSW that uses a Slayer for their special espressos, while standard drinks were made on their main machine (which I don’t remember). On one particular day when I was coffee crawling, I ordered a tasting plate which featured an espresso using their Slayer, a filter, and a carbonated cold drip. They were understaffed on that day, but were still accommodating to my request, which is pretty awesome. There was also a moment when another customer saw what I was ordering and asked questions about the coffees I was drinking, mainly because tasting plates weren’t big back then, at least at places that I visited. As they took a long time preparing and serving coffee, I actually received the drinks for free! Yes, I offered to pay regardless, but they said it was okay. I thought that was a very nice gesture from them, but because it was out of the way, I couldn’t show my gratitude through frequent revisits.

Due to the age of the picture, I accidentally mistook it for a Workshop Espresso shot, but something didn’t sit right with me in regards to the spacing in the wooden table, as well as the plastic cup in the corner – that’s when I recalled that Bean Drinking are the ones who use plastic cups, and I believe they do have tables where the wood planks are spaced out.

Mecca coffee was (and still is!) a mover and shaker in Sydney’s coffee scene, so I had to pay a visit from the numerous recommendations from websites I checked out. I really had no idea what I was doing, so again, this was a flat white moment where I actually felt it was underwhelming. It wasn’t until I became more knowledgeable that I realised that different places had different roast profiles, which meant that their black coffee must have been super delicious, being of a lighter roast (that’s how I like my black coffees).

Sadly, ristrettos were the trend of my internet research, so it was the black coffee I ordered at the time, and since I didn’t understand what I was drinking, I had a hard time appreciating it – though this was the beginning of it all, so I regret nothing!

Campos Coffee was also a prominent roaster in Sydney, and many cafes would serve their coffee, but at what was perceived to be at a higher quality than that of Toby’s Estate. So, I decided to visit their Newtown cafe to see what all the fuss was about – according to one of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guides, these guys churn out an insane amount of coffees per hour during morning service! They also serve iced coffee both ways – with the one on the right being a “traditional” iced coffee.


Their cups are also branded, so there’s no confusion as to where the coffee came from. Again, this was too early in my coffee adventures for me to fully understand that I needed to drink black coffee to truly appreciate how the cafe works. It is as busy as the reviews say, to the point where I was actually impressed our coffee orders came out quickly and correctly – it looked like organised chaos behind their counter!


And last but not least, Cornersmith. This is a local favourite and super hyped up cafe due to its focus on the community, and the owner’s love of pickling. Ingredients here are sourced from locals where possible, and they advertise items they need! They’ll barter pickles and possibly other goods in exchange. It’s a pretty cool thing to do! Their food is naturally, very good tasting and great for you! This was one of their grazing plates – raw and delicious. And yes, that is a pickled brussels sprout! It was here that I discovered how delicious food tasted raw, and since then, I’ve also focused on eating my vegetables raw where possible.

A ham and egg roll that was also delicious! And a mac to finish it all off. These are now all places that I won’t have time to visit (Cornersmith, Bean Drinking), or I no longer have an interest in them in the pursuit for newer coffee experiences (Campos, Toby’s Estate). However, they should be on a list of places to visit to get a better understanding of the coffee world.