Sifters Espresso - Wollongong NSW
Perhaps this is the most consistent gathering of bearded hipsters south of Surry Hills. Fronted by a funky clothes shop Minty Duds, the sloping lane from Market Street leads to a fete like location of paved tar, several forms of seating, a caravan park like setting, a hidden world beside alleys as if you are in Melbourne and one of the best coffees this side away from the Grounds off Alexandria. And the food, partnering with Son of A Gun, complements the coffee focus, the crowd demographic and the daily opening hours. On a nice day, the theme is sky blue.
Puddles there may be on a persistently rainy day, but you can rely on the Sifters, as surely as you can find a hard copy of Future Perfect magazine there. There are potted plants on the side, apparently mobile loos, art pieces hanging around and easy parking on the adjoining Victoria Street (weekends are free). Most just walk in from the nearby GPT shopping centre or Wollongong's burgeoning food street - Keira. Every time I go there, I reckon it is like coming upon a secret location - and then hey I think I know this chap, this gal and that. Miniature native plants adorn most tables.
Before 1130am, there are light sandwiches and burgers, but the intent is on the coffee beans and how Sifters drip it, make it and craft it. Mel Cox wants to showcase a diversity of Single Origins and offer customers a different blend every time they visit. Australia is already the home of so many blends - but there is this big wide world there! You can have an alternative range to get away from the usual makes - and it can be tailor served for you also in drip filter, macchiato, double shot, ristretto, affagato, doppio and cold brew.
|The Burger Butty.|
After 1130am, it is time to experiment with the food. Yes, they do have the big breakfast, or their own version. I noticed the ramen, rather fusion than the original, but with ingredients and garnishing that reflect modern Aus than noodle outlet Tokyo. Son of A Gun hails from the Heritage Kitchen in Wollongong's northern village, Bulli. The signature item is the rhubarb compote granola, a special blend, a special take and special recipe. There are also smoked lamb toasties, something to differentiate from the parade of pulled pork, mixed grain salads and brisket rolls seen in many of the burgeoning number of modern Australian cafes around the country.
Before 1130am, there are two bites that appeal to me, one with avocado smash and the other is that layered bun where omelette infuses with bacon, sauce and garnish - the Butty. I reckon the Butty may have just the sort of pull to form a growing tribe. The ocean may not be near, the stadium has no game, but any time is a good time for the Butty!
Sifters Expresso, together with Pepe's Garden, artist Jess Cochrane and Minty Duds
82 Market Street, but down a side lane
Telephone 0437 886 900
Open every day from 7am till 4ish pm
Would I return? A definite yes.
What is the mood there? Casual, fashionable and relaxed.
How is the ambiance? Outdoors, mates turn up and if there is no seat, just have a take away.
Seating: Varied, with artificial turf, director's chairs, pub style, normal table and sloping on the lane as well!
Business model: Separate teams prepare the food and coffee.
Dress code: Forward looking, just to be different, hipster.
Compulsory for males: A well kept beard.
Compulsory for females: The shoes you choose.
Rush hour: Yummy mummies mid-morning on weekdays, brunch hour on weekends.
What is the X factor here? The whole package.