Melbourne might be Australia's original coffee capital, but, these days, it's facing some fierce competition from cities all over the country, Parramatta included.
In secretive laneways and sun-dappled courtyards everywhere, locals are sipping on dynamic house blends and unique single origins. Whether it's a smooth, balanced cappuccino or a rich, dark espresso that gets you out of bed and into the office in the morning, it's within reach here in Parramatta.
Among Circa's penny-farthing wall hangings, charcoal sketches and pendant light bulbs, some of Parramatta's most flavoursome brews are served. Owner Aykut Sayan set up this fun, cosy cafe in 2010, out of a desire to share his unadulterated passion for coffee and food with the rest of the world. And he sure has attracted its interest. Queues are the norm, especially on weekend mornings, with one of the most coveted spots being the Chesterfield couch in Circa's mini-library. Sayan and his team select and roast the coffee beans in small batches, sourcing them from from Costa Rica to Kenya.
21 Wentworth Street; Open Monday-Friday, 7.00am - 3.00pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 8.00am - 3.00pm.
Lil' Miss Collins
As Paul Kelly sings, "From little things, big things grow", and Lil' Miss Collins is an example of his wisdom. This lovely cafe made its mark with two pop-ups before setting up permanent digs near Parramatta Station. Slipping through the recycled wooden fence into the courtyard feels like stepping into an alternative, rural world—and the clucking chickens confirm the notion. What's more, visitors are welcome to bring their own pets. As if running a mini-farm didn't give the Lil' Miss Collins folks enough to do, they roast their own beans, too. The house blend, dubbed Orthodox, is always on-the-go and there's usually an origin-driven alternative, too.
13 Wentworth Street; Open Monday-Friday, 7.00am-3:30pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 8.00am-3.00pm.
Darcy Street Project
As the name suggests, Darcy Street isn't just a cafe, it's an entire project. More specifically, it's a social enterprise. Youth, refugees, migrants and the homeless come here to train as baristas, thereby setting themselves up for job opportunities and gaining self-confidence. Finding a friendlier, warmer cafe anywhere would be tough. There's often a new initiative in the works; in August 2017, Darcy Street Project launched a solar brew bike, which can carry coffee afield, without hurting the planet. As at Circa and Lil' Miss Collins, the beans are roasted on the premises. The house blend, Big Tasty, is smooth and balanced, containing beans from Kenya, Colombia and India.
City Centre Carpark, Shop 4, 4/71 George Street; Open Monday-Friday, 6.00am-1.00pm, and Saturday, 8.00am-12.00pm.
White Henry Espresso Bar
It's in Parramatta's laneways that some of the City's most interesting businesses are to be found and one of them is White Henry. Since 2014, this espresso bar has been serving its house blend, Blue Stag, in which three types of Arabica beans combine to create a smooth, chocolatey flavour profile with spicy, fruity notes. There's also a single origin, which changes weekly. Metal stools and black benches give an industrial feel, softened by splashes with greenery. Despite the hidden away location, plenty of light streams in on sunny days.
Fire Horse Lane; Open Monday-Friday, 7.00am-4.00pm.
Macchina started life in a small espresso bar in Kingsgrove. Since then, owner Harry Ambanavos has taken his obsession with creating the perfect coffee to seven other locations around Sydney, including the International Airport. Macchina does all its own roasting, then distributes the beans to each branch, which creates a unique house blend. In Parramatta, the cafe's home is a classic-feeling, timber-filled space, with Parisian-style bentwood chairs, geometrical metal lanterns, exposed brick work and floor-to-ceiling windows perfect for office workers and wanderers alike.
1/2 Wentworth Street, Parramatta; Open Monday-Friday, 6am-4pm