In Short: ONA Coffee Marrickville is a welcome addition to the coffee scene in Sydney. If you are a coffee geek, you can literally spend hours in ONA’s beautiful space. If you’re hungry, there are a refined set of selections. My tip: sample a pour over coffee and their Smørrebrød.
No one appreciates cafe culture more than I do. I love visiting Melbourne, and their adoration for cafes is unsurpassed; in Sydney, the love for coffee is up there too. Then, there’s Canberra; until a decade ago it was a culinary desert! Food and cafes have sprouted all over the city, and in no small part, the ONA group have played a key role. I recall my first ONA experience on the lawns in Manuka in 2012 and at the time, with their comic-themed menu, I had remarked along with friends, that it was the equivalent to a great Sydney cafe. ONA’s prominence has grown with cafes throughout Canberra, and a stable of baristas that have taken their talents to the world stage and succeeded. Owner and founder of ONA, Sasa Sestic was crowned world barista champion in 2015 and his protege Hugh Kelly, placed in the top 5 in 2017 and was the 2017 Australian champion. While their ONA blends like the ‘The Hitman and The Founder had been slowly infiltrating cafes in Sydney, I was waiting for the day when a fully fledged cafe opened its doors. Cue the trumpets, ONA Coffee opened their doors on the weekend of May 26 in Marrickville, the hotbed for some of the best coffee anywhere in the country.
The space at ONA Coffee is open and communal in nature. Coffee takes centre stage with a long bar that splits the space down the middle. You can pull up a seat at the bar or find room further back. It’s very much an open space concept and lends itself to customers being able to move around and try different coffees, from milk coffees up front to hand made pour overs deeper into the space.
The Coco and Vine team visited on opening day. While it was crowded, there was a great vibe along with free coffee. We grabbed a seat out the front, with light spilling in from the street and waited patiently. I started off our ONA experience with a flat white. I had recently spent a weekend in Canberra and everyday it was either The Hitman flat white or The Founder flat white. I loved the bold, punchy flavours of The Hitman. There was nuttiness and balanced acidity that came through. It was dark and full bodied, just how I like it.
While I was happy to sample coffees all morning, fellow Coco and Viner Mavis had food on her mind! ONA’s food offerings are of the highest calibre as well. A Kingfish Smørrebrød was a delicately elegant creation. A thick slice of rye held slivers of perfectly cured kingfish with pickles, capers, and lemon aioli. I loved the kingfish; it was fresh and light and then the palate was tingled with the aioli, capers and pickles.
If a Smørrebrød sounds too exotic, on the other end of the spectrum is the venerable toastie. While toasties have become ubiquitous across Sydney, I loved ONA’s take on it, with delicious bacon and smooth textured Gruyere cheese. What sets ONA Coffee’s toastie from all others, were pickled green tomatoes and onion relish. Tartness from the green tomatoes cuts through the richness of the cheese and sweetness of the onion relish complements and delivers another dimension of flavour.
With great food in my tummy it was time to refocus on the coffee. I tried ONA’s Green Label El Salvador La Laguna. Hand-made utilising a pour over method, it was a beautifully textured coffee, with a bright start of lemon notes and finished off with sweet honey flavour. It’s the perfect winter tonic.
Rounding out of a fabulous morning of coffee tasting, I had a sip of Mavis’s cappuccino. One aspect about cappuccinos at any ONA cafe is that there’s no chocolate topping. It’s all about allowing the flavour of their blends to come through. For example Mavis ordered her cappuccino with the Raspberry Candy blend, and the coffee delivered a sweet, fruity flavour. Who needs chocolate when the coffee was that good?!
One sweet treat before we faced Sydney traffic was a Shortstop donut. If you have read through our blog, you would know we love Shortstop donuts. It was one of our favourite bites of 2016! I sampled their maple walnut and brown butter donut. It was sweet, yet savoury; soft to bite into with a crunchy and nutty top.
We enjoyed our morning at ONA Coffee, and with a day off looming, I had already made space on the calendar to visit ONA and spend a little more time exploring their range of coffees and just chilling out in their space. Odds are if you do visit, you may find it hard to resist spending every weekend in Marrickville and at ONA Coffee.