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Sydney coffee tour

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Coffee is the most important agricultural commodity in the world after oil. It is worth up to $14 billion each year. More than 80 countries cultivate coffee which is exported raw, roasted or soluble to more than 165 countries. Many countries depend on the export dollar for survival.

Coffee has been grown in Australia for more than 200 years. Since 1788 Australian production has gone through periods of growth and decline. Beginning in the early 1980s, a coffee growing industry began to re-emerge in Australia, both in the northern rivers area of New South Wales and in far north Queensland.

Sydney's inner-west suburb Leichhardt is known as "Little Italy" and that's where it all began. Norton Street is buzzing with Italian cafes, cake shops, restaurants and boutiques.

Bar Sport was started in 1956 by a Northern Italian. He spent a couple of years building the business, then headed home. Joe, Frank and Maria, the current owners, have been running it for seven years. Maria is in charge of the kitchen and Joe and Frank say they make the best coffee in Leichhardt. They know most of their customers by name and it is a very friendly place with the atmosphere of an authentic Roman bar.

Toby Smith of Toby's Estate has three cafes in Sydney and one in Melbourne. He is passionate about coffee — he gave up a career in law to pursue his obsession. He travelled on a shoestring to Brazil to live on a plantation learning everything he could about the beans. His plan was to farm coffee at home, but on his return realised the future was in sourcing and roasting the very best green beans in the world.

Toby's Estate Coffee started 10 years ago in a garage with a small batch roaster. From small beginnings, and with the help of family members, Toby's first retail outlet opened in Woolloomooloo in 2001. It continues to operate as a cafe and also has an espresso school.

Products have expanded to chocolate and tea and Toby's Estate offers more than 50 black, white, semi-fermented and an exclusive range of the finest Japanese organic green teas.

Mention coffee to anyone on Sydney's lower north shore and Forsyth's springs to mind. A new shop in Bondi means Sydney's eastern suburbs can now enjoy the same experience.

Rob Forsyth, coffee buyer and roast master, has been blending coffee for over 25 years and judges national and international barista championships. He sells around 500 cups a day, and more on weekends when it is a popular meeting place for locals.

The cosy little shop has coffee trees growing in pots at the front and they run appreciation courses and domestic espresso lessons so you can get the most out of your home machine.

Rob documents every coffee he drinks, taking notes and evaluating every one including one of the most expensive in the world, Kopi Luwak. Its beans are found in the droppings of a civet cat, known there as a luwak, found in the forests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The cat loves to eat the bright red cherries of the coffee shrub, absorbs the goodness of the fruit and the coffee seed passes through its system to be left as droppings on the forest floor.

Coffee pickers comb the droppings for seeds, clean them and remove husks to expose the bean.

Rob will take you through the art of cupping and will specially brew the cup so you will enjoy your Kopi Luwak. Cost is $50 per person with a minimum of four people. Bookings are essential.


Great places to enjoy the best coffee across Sydney.


Tobys Estate Coffee courses come in various levels. They are $150 each and when you book four classes, Level five is complimentary. All materials, certification and assistance with job placement is included. They run on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Forsyth's Kopi Luwak brewing and tasting is $50 per person with a minimum of four people. They have other opportunities to improve your knowledge and preparation of coffee.

Prices correct at November 20, 2008.

For further information

Bar Sport
2a Norton Street
Leichhardt 2040
Ph: (02) 9569 2397

Toby's Estate
129 Cathedral Street
Ph: (02) 9358 1196

Forsyth Coffee
284 Willoughby Road
Naremburn 2065
Ph: (02) 9906 7388

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User comments
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