Seriously what's up with like pretty much every Sydney roaster/cafe being based in Surry Hills, Newtown or the CBD? I mean sure, they have impressive interiors and clever names and every server has a precision haircut or beard to match the glowing smile of knowing they work at an 'it' coffee destination, but what they lack is that personal touch you get with a suburban cafe. Problem is, suburban cafes are often mediocre. Except for a few. Salvage Specialty Coffee is one of those few.
Salvage is a boutique roaster and cafe in Artarmon in the north shore suburbs of Sydney. One of the few cafes worth mentioning in the northern suburbs, it really stands out in an otherwise boring and pedestrian outdoor shopping strip as a teriffic place for an unusually well crafted and attentive coffee. I'm a big fan of suburban shops - they preserve the 'meeting spot' nature of coffee shops that has been lost in today's smartphone-wielding world - inner city joints may produce amazing brew and have teriffic buzz and foot traffic, but that's not the vibe you always want. So, on to what I liked about Salvage:
- The roasters/owners are RIGHT THERE. You can talk to them. You can tell they're the owners (they look like it). They know the scene, they know the beans, they talk about their dreams and aspirations and they're nice guys. I'd go back just for that.
- They're really busy: Enough to feel full and like a place you want to go to (even on the hot day when I went), but not so busy you feel like you get no attention. The vibe was not 'cool for a suburb', it was 'cool, in a suburb'.
- They get the little things right: The cold brew they served (not normally my favourite, but it was a hot Sydney day!) was stamped with a date on which it was brewed as well as the beans used. This is a pleasant change. I've sometimes been served cold brew that has been sitting for two months - just unacceptable.
- OMG it's open on a Sunday! This is something I've learned you can't assume in Sydney. Most places aren't open, and those that are tend to close at 4. Check ahead of time!
I'd recommend a visit here if you're anywhere north of the bridge/tunnel, particularly on a weekend.
(See? The guys are right there.)