In Short: The Alchemist Espresso is a suburban gem. Tucked away on a quiet street, yet still only minutes from North Sydney, this café delivers astounding coffee and nourishing eats. There’s a great selection of gluten-free muffins and cakes.
I have a feeling this post is going to annoy locals who covet The Alchemist Espresso, but little gems like this one need to be celebrated. This little café shuns the exposure of Miller Street, where you would find a host of eateries. It sits a couple of blocks from the main drag, yet never suffers from lack of attention. The space has been fashioned out of an old liquor store with that characteristic VB sign up top. It’s rustic, with a real country home atmosphere.
We visited on a winter afternoon and the fireplace was crackling away. It fits right in with the aesthetic and feel of the café. Warm, welcoming, and totally relaxing. The Alchemist Espresso is a place where you can bring a book or computer and spend an afternoon over a coffee or two and never feel that you’re in the way. There’s seating in and out.
What has drawn me back since our first visit has been their coffee. It is absolutely top rate. My first coffee on this visit was a Rwandan single origin pour over. A dark bronze liquid that is smooth and refined, owing to the pour over technique, the coffee was bursting with citrus flavours that settle then transitions to a sweet caramel finish. It was a full-bodied coffee that awakens the palate. And, beautifully presented too!
On a similar level of excellence was the The Alchemist Espresso’s chai. No powders or cheeky shortcuts here. I could see as I poured the chai through the strainer the collection of spices. There were aromas of cinnamon, cardamom and star anise. It was like being back in a spice market! I enjoyed the beautifully smooth texture of the chai, with a gently tingling of spice at the back of my throat. It was creamy, full bodied and had a real depth of flavour.
With drinks awaking the senses, it was time to dig into the food that was quick to arrive at the big communal table we were seated at. My choice is The Alchemist granola bowl with sweet yoghurt, kiwi, dates and berries. It’s full of contrasting textures and flavours. From sweet, to sharp, and everything in between. I loved the whole fruits, including decadent, seeded whole dark cherries. It’s backed up by a rich and creamy Greek yoghurt that’s laced with passionfruit. It’s a complete breakfast offering that is attractively presented, and delicious to consume.
Fellow Coco and Viner Mavis auditioned one of the selection of sandwiches on offer. The roast beef sandwich comes with generous slices of beef, rocket, dijon mustard, gherkin and melted cheese. It’s everything a sandwich should be. Generous and packing a ton of flavour. The beef is tender and sliced thin, with a nice hit of mustard. It was all elevated with melted cheese and tangy sourdough.
To wash my lunch down I tried a double fermented kombucha. Reflecting on the name of the store, the kombucha is cutely presented in two little beakers, with the kombucha accompanied with sparkling water. It’s essentially a shot of kombucha that’s the real deal. It’s a punchy, effervescent offering which I enjoy. Aficionados will appreciate the tartness of The Alchemist’s rendition of this fermented tea. To water down the flavour if you must, you can chase it down with a shot of sparkling water.
I couldn’t leave The Alchemist Espresso without one last coffee. I mean it’s only fitting that I tried a milk-based coffee. A flat white is bold and beautiful. There’s a sublime depth of flavour with notes of roasted cashews and chocolate, with a sweet caramel finish. So yummy! The barista worked Sydney roaster Gabriel’s Monte Carlo blend so well and served a coffee that is some of the best I have had in Sydney this year.
Few cafés make me go out of my way to pop in and grab coffee, and a treat for the wife and child, and continue on. The Alchemist Espresso is just that place. On subsequent visits, the coffee has continued on a plateau of excellence. If you’re after an experience that whisks you away from the craziness of the metropolis, this café on the lower north shore is your best bet.