Sydney was my final stop on this year’s Australia trip and, in many ways, I’d saved the best until last. Good coffee abounds in Sydney and top of my list was one of the city’s pioneers, Single O, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And where better to start than Single O’s flagship café in Surry Hills, the place where it all began 20 years ago? Except, of course, my first introduction to Single O came five years earlier at its Tasting Bar in the Single O Roastery in Tokyo. Oh well…
The Surry Hills café is long and thin, split into separate sit-in and takeaway sections either side of the central counter. There’s also plenty of seating outside. Originally the back of the café was home to the roastery. This is long since gone, but Single O still roasts all its coffee, with two blends and a rotating single-origin on espresso, two single-origins on batch-brew filter (both on tap!), plus cold brew and two tasting flights, with all the beans available to buy in retail bags. There are also juices, beer and wine, while the large all-day brunch menu means you’re equally well catered for when it comes to food.
Like two of my recent Tokyo posts, today’s Saturday Short is a roastery/coffee shop, although this one, Single O, is from my current visit (I was there yesterday). Like Switch Coffee Roasters in Meguro and the now closed coffee bar at Fuglen Coffee Roasters, Single O is not somewhere you would stumble upon by accident. Somewhat off the beaten (tourist) track, down a lane off a side-street in an anonymous grid of streets in Ryogoku, east of Sumida River, it is at least noticeable when you get there. The large outside seating area is clearly visible from the street, while, if the sliding doors are fully retracted, so is the counter.
There’s not much to the tasting bar, just the aforementioned counter, beyond which, behind another set of sliding doors, is the roastery. As always, the coffee’s the draw with either the Reservoir blend on espresso or a selection of seasonal single-origins (three during my visit) as pour-overs through the V60 or Aeropress. And that’s it, other than some retail bags of coffee for sale.
A relative newcomer to Kyoto’s speciality coffee scene, Kurasu only opened in 2016. It seems a tad harsh to call it a chain, but shortly after my visit, in 2017, a second branch of Kurasu opened. In Singapore. While an excellent coffee shop in its own right, Kurasu also champions Japanese coffee products, such as pour-over filters, kettles and crockery, operating a worldwide mail order business, which is where Kurasu had its roots, starting in Australia in 2013, before the owner returned to his home town in 2016.
A five-minute walk from Kyoto’s main station, the coffee shop is a modest affair, long, and thin, with the counter on one side and minimal seating at the back. There’s a house blend from Single O, an Australian-based roaster with an outpost in Tokyo, while the pour-over and batch-brew feature single-origins from roasters around Japan, who change every month. There’s also a small selection of cake.