Well, aren’t I a lucky little caffeine addict. Truly spoiled for coffee choice in my neck of the woods, I often find I’m a tad blasé about what’s on offer. So it’s always a nice surprise to venture out of this sprawling city of Sydney a little further afield and find a brilliant coffee spot. Whaddya know kids? The world doesn’t begin and end with Sydney.
I can’t help but think the common threads among the cafés I love- vintage furniture, bearded baristas, bikes on the wall are kind of the hipster’s equivalent of going to Paris and only eating at McDonalds. These cafés are familiar, non-threatening. I know what to expect from them. They’re a genre, a brand if you will. And I’m pretty brand-loyal these days. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I’m not sure.
Anyway, I’ve checked out Rolador in Hamilton a few times now, and I have to say I’m impressed. Like many great things in my life, it was my gorgeous boyfriend’s idea, as was this post. There is indeed a roller door on one side (facing the station) serving takeaways, with a bunch of benches, tables and chairs scattered around. Inside it’s all eames-era vinyl chairs and kitsch knick knacks, but we find ourselves a seat outside and it’s not long before someone comes over to take our order.
Perched on a sun-drenched corner, seconds from Hamilton station and open seven days a week, I find myself wishing Rolador were my local. Friendly staff, retro touches, good coffee and home-baked treats, even Mexican tapas, whatever the hell that is, at night sometimes. And I love a café where you can literally see you train pull up.
We weren’t catching a train that day, but if we were I’d be willing to miss it for this oh-so-lemony lemon muffin we chose, which was more like cake really. We bantered back and forth with the waiter about what qualifies as cake. My macch was no slouch either, and my man pronounced his piccollo a success.
It was so pleasant in the sun we sat for some time, spreading butter from our laksa spoon on our lemon cake/muffin and sipping coffee in a reasonably sophisticated manner. I even refrained from dunking the cake in my coffee.
If I lived in Newcastle, I’d be pretty happy with this place. The coffee is good, they offer a decent spread of homemade-looking (in a good way) cakes etc. on the counter, the menu looks solid, and the vibe was relaxed, friendly, and not the least bit pretentious. We’ll be back.
1 Beaumont Street
Hamilton, NSW 2303
02 4969 1786
A recommendation from a friend is always handy to have, but sometimes a recommendation from a stranger is even better. Since I started Corridor Kitchen I’ve had so many great suggestions from friends, co-bloggers and readers as to where to find great coffee and food, I can’t keep up! My urbanspoon wishlist currently totals 197 to-try places! But keep ‘em coming, I say.
Kaye emailed me a while ago and suggested I check out PS Cafe in Dulwich Hill. It’s right by the train station, which is always a good thing for a non-driver like myself, but my sweet Signor R chauffeured me nonetheless. It’s an unassuming little corner place, like many in the inner west, part of a clump of local shops near a train station. A bit like Paper Cup in Stanmore or Cornersmith in Marrickville.
We arrive bright and early one Saturday morning at this cute little corner cafe with equally cute staff, who take our coffee order while we wait for the other half of our party. If a bicycle on the wall signals a coffee mecca, Senhor R muses, this place must do pretty good coffee- there’s vintage scooter parked inside! It’s secondhand furniture wall-to-wall (pro tip – cheaper in Dulwich than Surry Hills) and quirky knick knacks abound. It’s a little chilly with the doors left open, but there you go.
A glance at the menu reveals the usual breakky and lunch fare, but with a greek twist, loukanikos (Greek pork sausages), vanilla submarines and haloumi being examples. I hear almost everything is made in house, from the cakes to the jams and sauces to the sausages. Impressive.
Our chums arrive and we get ordering. Today’s house-made chipolatas are described as ‘quite spicy’, so that gets ordered, along with a bacon and egg roll with aioli and various combos of eggs, toast and sides, including the kumera and basil hash, which is more like mashed kumera which is then pan fried, but who’s complaining?
What I like about the breakfast is they’ve set it up very design-your-own – the guts of the breakky menu is free range eggs with your choice of toast (sourdough, soy and linseed or rye) and then there are 12 different sides to choose from. It’s all very reasonably priced. None of the food blows anyone’s mind, but the servings are generous and the service is good.
Man, this place is strong on coffee. It is strong a dark-tasting, but not overwhelming- it feels like the flavour coats your whole tongue. I’d describe the flavour as very solid and cohesive, if that makes sense – there are layers, but they are tightly grouped. I like it so much I order a second macch. Caffé deluca, who would’ve thunk?
245 Wardell Road
Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
0403 412 860
Open 7 Days for breakfast and lunch
Sydney CBD cafés usually have a very different feel from those on the city fringe. Your Petty Cash Cafés, you Belljars don’t really exude the same frantic, grab-your-latte-and-raisin-toast-and-run vibe that you get at somewhere like, say, Vella Nero. This is changing, or maybe I’m just paying closer attention. In any case the York Street hub, with the likes of the quirky Shirt Bar and the laneway haven York Lane is a pretty awesome place to be grabbing your coffees and lunches these days.
Palomino Espresso is the newest addition to the area. A few blocks south of Wynyard Station, nextdoor to Stitch, I literally walked straight past it on its second day of trading. And I was actually looking for it. It was only because I was looking for number 61 and the numbers were higher than that that I turned around and had a second look.
I ordered my macch and sat looking out onto the street, and almost every person who walked past did a double take. It wasn’t so much a case of ‘wow, a new café’ as it was ‘how long has that place been open?’. That’s because Palomino Espresso looks like it’s been part of the furniture for yonks. And the service wasn’t very ‘we’ve only been open for two days’ either. If they hadn’t mentioned that fact so many times, I doubt anyone would’ve noticed they’re the NKOTB.
As per usual, I just had coffee. It was good, not particularly photogenic but a nutty, vanilla-y sort of flavour. I was tempted by something that looked suspiciously like a butterfly cake, or at any rate, some variety of cupcake heavy with whipped cream. The breakkies are a bit more city fringe than dine-and-dash – I saw house baked beans and eggs benny on offer, and tons of homemade-looking baked treats. These guys serve Morgans Handcrafted Coffee, the day I went they had two choices, one of which was a Brazilian Single Origin, if that’s what floats your boat. They do cold drip and for soy addicts, it’s bonsoy all the way.
The decor is a tad quirky, with wild west themed knick knacks (there’s a horse figurine inside the espresso machine). To me, it looks like the kind of cafe you’d find in Glebe, I’m not sure why. The high ceilings mean plenty of glass street frontage, there’s enough seating and the staff seem really friendly. I am unsure of their opening hours but I am going to find out. I will be back.
1/61 York Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Monday-Friday 7:00am – 4:00pm
If you follow the cyclists, you’ll find a good cafe. Turns out those fixies mounted on the wall in your local trendy coffee house aren’t always just for decoration. I challenge you to find somewhere in this wide brown land more cycle friendly than our Nation’s Capital. Canberra has almost as many bike paths as there are roads and so it stands to reason there has to be more than one place to find a good macch. And so early one Canberra morning we rose with the cyclists and followed them to Farmer’s Daughter.
Farmer’s Daughter is at the Yarralumla shops, an old and well-off suburb 5 minutes west of Parliament house. Yeah, like that’s how Canberrans give directions. Anyway, It’s just after 9:00am when we arrive, so we have our pick of tables. By 9:45 the place is pretty much full and the wait is long for those who want a 10:00 or 11:00 am breakky.
The menus are on cute little clipboards and it’s one of those occasions where everything sounds enticing; enough adjectives to intrigue but not so many as to overwhelm. I consider the french toast, described as ‘soft toasted brioche slices served with fresh summer berries and lavender cream’, but I can never quite go past a savoury brunch and so I choose the fried egg bruschetta with romesco. Breakfast dishes hover around the $16 mark, so you know if it’s less than perfect I’ll be sending it back.
The coffee menu is why we’re really here, as farmer’s Daughter serve cold drip and syphon as well as espresso. What I like about their specialty coffee menu is that it’s all written down as part of the normal menu, not on a blackboard or just as something you have to know to ask for. I like that they’ve described what each method involves and tastes like on their menu, leaving you to order the drink, ask questions about it, or not. I know most people drink espresso but I’m sure many are curious to have a go at siphon or cold drip or pourover, but aren’t quite sure where to begin. All too often specialty, back-to-basics coffee can be quite intimidating for the unnanitiated coffee drinker, but not so at Farmer’s Daughter, so assuming that hipster coffee places actually *want* a bigger uptake of these alternacoffees, this is a smart move.
Between the four of us we order a macchiatto (guess who?), a picollo latte, a siphon coffee and a fire and ice espresso shot, which is two shots of a single origin espresso, one in a frozen glass and one in a room temperature glass. This is to show of the differing flavours at different temperatures, as is the Siphon, which you drink cup by cup from hot to lukewarm to appreciate its subtle, tea-like flavour, but also how that flavour changes as the temperature drops. It’s actually quite fun try both of these coffee methods, and there’s nothing patronising or pretentious about the way they’ve each been presented.
The fried egg bruschetta is great, with runny yolks and firm-enough whites, although the romesco has the quality of those cashew and capsicum deli dips – it tastes store bought, although I can’t say for sure. Who cares, it’s delish. The other dishes on our table are equally tasty, from the poached eggs with ‘finishing touches’ to the the ‘no ordinary soldiers’, three toasts with a different topping for each: smoked salmon and crème fraîche on one, parmesan and rocket on another and the third with prosciutto and romesco.
Overall I’d say I enjoyed breakfast at Farmer’s Daughter, I even went back for a second macch (naughty), this time a single origin, the Rwanda Maraba III Sovu Cup of Excellence which is indeed both velvety and fusgy as the Campos website decrees. I will return, bright and early, to sip a syphon and investigate their menu further.
27B Bentham St, Yarralumla
Yarralumla, ACT 2600
02 6281 2233
Monday- Saturday 7:00am – 3:00pm
Ideally, we’d always have the time- and space- for a relaxed sit-down coffee in the morning sun. But in the fast-paced Sydney CBD where space is at a premium, it’s just not always possible. Luckily, limitations often breed great ideas and with these three teensy espresso bars, there’s definitely no need to compromise on quality. Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the three best Sydney CBD hole-in-the-wall coffee spots.
1. Joe Black X, 70 King Street
Not to be confused with Joe Black, Joe Black X is housed in a teensy alcove, squished up against the new Louise Vuitton store. There’s only one seat so it’s takeaway only, with menus scrawled on cardboard signs and delicious Little Pudding cakes peeking out of the display fridge. When I order my macch the barista has me watch him pour it and say ‘when’. Always a good sign.
Bean: Their own blend, roasted by Toby’s estate.
Food: Sandwiches, cakes and breakky treats abound. These guys are very diy, poaching chicken and making meusli and yogurt onsite.
Joe Black X
70 King Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
2. The Lab Cafe, 109 Pitt Street
The Lab is situated at the Pitt Street end of the Hunter Connection. They now have five stores in total. Their cakes and muffins are housed in bell jars with a bunch bagged up to go. My friend (not as much of a caffeine head as I) wanted something sweet so grabbed a muffin, which she said was delicious. And the staff are friendly too.
Bean: Di Lorenzo.
Price: $3 for a small, $3.60 for a large.
Food: Muffins, friands and biscuits.
The Lab Cafe
9/109 Pitt Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
0451 038 795
3. Workshop Espresso, 500 George Street
Workshop has been doing a roaring trade since it opened in 2009, and it’s easy to see why. There’s always a glut of people outside – I was there early one Thursday morning and all seats were taken, with 6 people waiting for takeaways ahead of me. But never fear, these guys are efficient, friendly and know their stuff. You can also purchase their signature blend to take home.
Bean: Workshop blend by Toby’s estate, a variety of single origins.
Price: My takeaway macch was $3
Food: Word on the street is they have great breakky and lunch selections – they use Sonoma bread, a lot of toast-based things, sambos and cakes.
Shop RG01A, 500 George Street, (The Galleries Victoria)
Sydney, NSW 200
02 9264 8836
Do you have a favourite hole-in-the-wall coffe place?
There’s something in the water in Alexandria. One by one, disused warehouses are being converted into cafes and bars. Sympathetic renovations abound – think Allpress Espresso, Kitchen by Mike, Don Campos, Bread and Circus or Sonomo HQ. Further afield you’ve got the likes of Brasserie Bread and Freda’s Bar and Canteen taking up residence. Add The Grounds to the list of cavernous and ultra modern spaces slightly off the beaten path of the inner southwest.
The Grounds is situated on the corner of Huntley street and Bourke Road. It’s is in the same ‘complex’ as 4143 at The James Barnes. It felt like this place would never open, but open it did for the first time yesterday, so this morning I went to check it out.
When we arrive, I count ten staff. We order our coffees and are told since we’re having them in, to take a seat and then order. The coffee takes a while, which is odd considering the gaggle of waiters clustered around the till and the small number of customers. To be fair, we did arrive at 7:15am on their second day of trade, and I know from experience that a POS system can be a pain in the arse to get going. When it arrives, the coffee is good. Well-rounded flavour, and well presented.
The Grounds is an amazing space. Imagine a kind of barn (well, former pie factory), all rustic wooden finishes and concrete floors (drool), lit with tungsten lights and dotted with industrial touches like exposed copper pipe. This space cries out to be described in cliches – rustic, post-industrial, but above all, beautiful. You can view the coffee roasters through glass panels and on the wall behind neon yellow letters spell out ‘Research Facility’.
The ‘barn’ opens out onto a large garden/courtyard and there’s plenty of seating to while away the hours. There you’ll find a micro-garden of herbs, fruit and veggies, with chickens no less, giving Cornersmith a run for its money in the made-from-scratch stakes. They also bake their own bread and roast their own beans, and plan to hold cupping and coffee making classes. If you take a quick squiz at Katie Quinn Davies’ (no relation) shoot for The Grounds, I think you’ll agree their home style food (could they BE any more on trend) looks pretty bloody scrumptious. I for one can’t wait to try it.
All in all I’m delighted to have these guys in my backyard. And I plan to spend a lot of time in theirs.
The Grounds of Alexandria
7a/2 Huntly Street (corner Bourke Road)
Alexandria NSW 2015
Weekends 7:00am – 3:00pm
I’ve spent most of my working life in cafes, and the work ethic of the people who run them has always amazed me. I couldn’t do it. If I could have a cafe that only opened one day a week, maybe I could make a go of it. But what kind of clientele would you build up with only one day a week of trade? Plenty, if you’re cafe Ancheto.
I found out about cafe Ancheto through Footscray Food Blog, and I just knew I hod to check it out on my next visit to Melbourne. Cafe Ancheto runs on Saturdays at the Sunshine Masonic Hall in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs.
I arrive on a scorching dry Melbourne day and take a seat inside the cavernous (and thankfully, cool) space. The room is set out with vintage furniture, polished wood floors and toys to entertain the kids. It has a welcoming vibe and there’s plenty of space to spread out.
To say the staff are run off their feet is an understatement, but I’m in no hurry. Eventually a waitress rushes by and I order my macch. It doesn’t take long to arrive. It’s good, a bit on the frothy side but nice and short (you have the specify in Melbourne, otherwise you may end up with the feared long macch) and the vast old space is a nice change from the usual cramped coffee hole-in-the-wall I frequent.
People around me are in no hurry either but the food is taking a while to arrive. Eventually I go up to the counter and order some toast with jam from the harried waitress who brought me my coffee.
All in all, I would recommend cafe Ancheto, especially as there aren’t many cafes in Sunshine. I think it would be a good place for a group of friends to meet for coffee and maybe cake. The staff were really lovely, they just had a lot on their plates. When I left, the girl that served me said ‘You’ll have to try the breakfast next time.’ I told her everything looked delicious but I just didn’t have the time.
93 Hampshire Road,
Sunshine, VIC, 3020
0419 015 072
Saturdays, 9:00am – 2:00pm
Two things that I think are overrated – puns and pan-fried haloumi. At Seddon Deadly Sins I got both, didn’t mind the first and fell in love with the second.
To be fair though, it was impossible not to fall in love with the haloumi, as it was actually deep fried and beer battered, like a kind of savoury cheesecake donut. This was accompanied by a perfectly poached egg, just-crispy-enough fried bacon and some kind of relish that tasted like figs.
My so-cool-it-hurts Melbournite chum ordered an equally stunning breakfast of herbed polenta, which came with poached eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled haloumi and harissa. This was photogenic to say the least.
Seddon Deadly Sins, located in Seddon (funnily enough) also boasts decent, if a tad too hot coffee and incredibly friendly service. While I waited for my friend to arrive I sat in the front part of the cafe, spellbound by the cakje fridge, as regulars came and went for coffee and breakfast. We soon moved to the relaxing little courtyard out the back to order breakfast from the Little Golden Book encased menus.
Seddon Deadly Sins has one of those menus that makes decision virtually impossible as the choices are varied, creative and yet somehow familiar. I tossed up between the the beer battered haloumi, the sweet potato latkes and the thai pork skewers for a while before making my choice, but to be honest, I was pretty much tossing up between most of the menu. FYI, they also have a decently priced beer/wine list.
The decor is thematic and not really to my taste (a bit Lord of the Rings/Dungeouns and dragons meets the local organic food co op). But that’s pretty much irrelevant. I’m still dreaming of the perfect, gooey cheese encrusted with crispy bgolden beer batter…
Seddon Deadly Sins
148 Victoria Street
Seddon, VIC, 3011
Tuesday to Sunday 8:00am – 5:00pm
Before Australia became an espresso drinker’s paradise, how the hell did we fill our time? What reason did we give for popping out of the office at 10:30am, a quick… juice? And what of those who don’t drink it? Something tells me the Aussie psyche is evolving a distinct distrust of the non-coffee drinker. We’re learning to look on them with the same suspicion we traditionally reserved for the teetotaller – eschewing coffee will soon be ‘unastrayun’.
But lucky for caffeine addicts like me that our nation’s passion ensures that every five minutes a new, hip café or coffee roaster pops up. I may be biased as an inner-westie, but a large number of them crop up in the inner-west. Ok, so they’re in places like Alexandria or Marrickville, the so-called ‘warehouse suburbs’ (so-called because I just called them that), and that has more to do with a post-industrial (literally) gentrification than a compass. But there’s no doubt I’m one lucky Lau to live in such a pocket of coffee wankery.
Double Roasters stands on the threshold between the part of Marrickville I’d consider living in and actual Marrickville. Halfway between Marrickville Road and The Factory Theatre, it’s an all grey building with lurid neon stencilling spelling out its name on the windows. When my bro and I arrive, I’m pleased to see it’s a big place and there are plenty of tables both inside and out. We join the queue and it’s not long before a pleasant young fellow is enquiring if we want to have in or takeaway. We tell him ‘have in’ and he invites us to sit wherever we like. We do.
The windows in this place are floor to ceiling, which gives the café good light. There are your usual knick knacks scattered around and there are also bag of coffee to buy ($9 each – not bad, if it’s any good). The interior is painted the same bluish—grey as outside. The counter is brick and behind it sits a roaster, tables and chairs are wooden, arranged diagonally on the painted concrete floors. Considering its 10:30am on a Saturday morning it’s not too crowded, there’s the mix of inner-west families and student-types you’d expect in this part of town. We order coffees.
The menu looks good. Prices are more than reasonable with sandwiches (roast pork belly, poached chicken) at $7.50 and nothing on the breakky menu for more than $12.00. I note that they use Sonoma bread and the much-praised bonsoy soy milk – ticking two boxes straight up. Bro orders the roast pork belly sandwich and I go for the brekkie special – Zucchini and corn fritters with avocado salsa, rocket and a poached egg.
Weirdly, our brekkie arrives prior to our coffees. The glutton in me is disappointed by their size, but the proper grown-up recognises they portions are perfectly adequate, especially given the price. Bro loves his pork belly sandwich. I have a bite and its pretty dandy – fresh bread, some kind of apple relish and possibly aioli accompanying tender pork. My fritters are perfectly cooked and the perfect size, but I realise while I’m eating them that I’d prefer a little lower zucchini to corn ratio. The avocado salsa is a mash, so more like a guac, the egg is slightly too poached (very slightly). I would say my brekkie is almost perfect.
Our macchiato and double macchiato arrive next, and they are smooth and tasty. I don’t add any Colombian organic sugarcane to mine and neither does my bro, but I guess that’s just our personal preference. While I enjoy the coffee, it’s weirdly milky for a macch, more of a picciatto if you ask me. Nevertheless I order a second.
The only thing that slightly spoils our morning is how long it takes to pay. The guy at the register is chatting away with the customer in front of us, apparently frozen with the customer’s $20 bill in his hand. As they chat away we’re standing there, thinking he could just put the money through, then settle our bill, and then go back to his chat. A few minutes later he comes to us but, as if to try and make up for it, he runs through our order piece by piece, looking at us expectantly, urging us to deliver a verdict. This actually has the opposite effect- we don’t feel privileged to give our opinions, we feel forced to praise the (admittedly delicious) meal when we should have been walking out of the café to get on with our Saturday and the one million and one important things we had to do, hideously busy and important people that we are.
199 Victoria Road
Marrickville NSW 2204
02 9572 7711
6:00pm – 3:00pm
Weekend breakky used to be one of my favourite rituals. I had my places, I had my fave orders. But lately, it’s kind of fallen off the radar. So a couple of weeks ago, Senhor R and I jumped in the car and went to one of our all-time best breakky haunts, only to be greeted by sad, overpriced food and lacklustre service. We vowed never again to set out on a breakfast quest without a place in mind.
Having heard good things about Sonoma Bakery Café, the relatively new Sonoma HQ, we decided to head southwards for something new. We were greeted by a huge warehouse space, Allpress-like in its interior. An order-and-pay-at-counter affair, said counter was laden with delicious looking sandwiches and pastry. As we stood surveying the offerings, a barista offered us the breakky menu. Easy to see it was out first visit.
Obviously there wouldn’t be much point in ordering a Sonoma breakky if it didn’t include toast. I went for the kind of thing I usually choose – toast and poached eggs with a side of avocado. I noticed, weirdly that the blackboard menu worked out a couple of dollars cheaper than the paper menu, who knows, may have been a glitch. Senhor R ordered the Turkish eggs, described as eggs with ricotta, olives, tomato, dukkah and toast.
We help ourselves to water from a handy tap imbedded in the bench and grab some salt and pepper shakers as well. Our coffees arrived, soon followed by our breakfasts. I could tell straight away that my eggs were near-perfect, the butter on the side, which I appreciated, especially as I ordered avo. I’m a bit surprised they’ve mashed the avo though, since its texture is kind of the point. I spread my sourdough (I think it’s rye spelt) with butter and avo, whack and egg on top and pierce the yolk. Perfect. Liquid. Centre. Senhor R’s breakky is very salty, luckily he loves salt. It’s not quite what we expected – a mash of soft boiled egg, ricotta, chopped olives, fresh tomato and dukkah spread on double thick toast. I’m not sure what we imagined, definitely whole (rather than slightly mashed) eggs, something more akin to baked eggs I guess (that’s also on their menu). Senhor R admits he didn’t really read the description properly.
Sonoma has their own blend roasted by Surry Hills hipsters Single Origin Roasters, I’m not a huge fan, nor am I a huge detractor. The coffee was smooth, chocolatey and well made. The staff were all really friendly, so much so that when the barista cleared away our coffee cups, he asked if we’d like another round ‘On the house, I’m pretty bored.’ Maybe it was me snapping away, maybe he really was bored, either way, can’t say no to a free coffee.
Overall, we were very impressed with Sonoma, so much so that we returned the following day for coffee and to share a sandwich (Moroccan Chicken – amazing). I loved the space – high ceilings, plenty of tables, polished concrete floors, bare light bulbs. It’s kind of hard to find, but definitely worth the trek.
Sonoma Bakery Café
32-44 Birmingham Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
02 8338 1051
7:00 am – 4:00 pm
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Disclaimer:All opinions in this blog are mine, an everyday, real-life person. I do not accept payment for reviews and nor do I write sponsored posts. I do not endorse the content of the comments herein. From time to time I give away products and experiences to my readers, all competitions have completely arbitrary rules, all decisions are final and all prizes awarded as I see fit.