We sometimes feel like hamsters sweating it out on a wheel trying to keep up with the Surry Hills café scene. Just staying on top of new openings is enough to run ourselves ragged, and sometimes in the blur you can lose site of those coffee-and-egg hawkers who've been doing good work for a long time.
Single Origin Roasters is such a place. There's a reason this roastery/café on Reservoir Street is still one of lower Surry Hills' most popular spot for a pre-work brekky meeting. For starters, there's the coffee – no surprise, given the spot is HQ for the roasters supplying some of Sydney's top cafés. The team here serve a house blend they call Reservoir and it's a doozy: sweet, clean and light – perfect for a milk-based morning cup.
A great addition to the café has been the coffee bar next door. The Single Origins 'Sideshow' sits under a tattered 'Racks PTY LTD' sign and serves bags of beans, take-away coffee as well syphon coffee, cold-drop, aero-press and pour overs. You might want to try an "origin of the month" from the machine: they rotate four blends over each week of the month and on our visit are pouring floral and fruity 'Mutovu' from Rwanda.
Inside the café itself, it's still a squeeze along the windowed wall (we love the messy white-paint-on-black mural at the side), and it can be as hard as ever during pre-work peak hour to score a wooden stool on the footpath. But be patient (or prepared to squeeze) because they're doing some good brekky here.
The menu is frequently changing, but we're lucky enough to snap up a plate of creamed corn, black pudding, radish salad and chilli relish on our visit. The purée-like corn is a perfectly sweet foil to the radish, and we always like to see black pudding on a morning menu. A health-ified smoked trout kedgeree with quinoa in place of rice is also a winner.
If there's a flaw, it's the service. They know their coffee at Single Origin, and they're friendly enough when everything's going right – but we shouldn't be made to feel we're asking for the head of John the Baptist when we ask for some hot water to heat up the lukewarm tea we've been served.
Still, it's a minor glitch for a café that's been kicking goals in these parts for a while now. And maybe our waiter just hadn't had his Single Origin for the day.