Neighbourhood by Seán McManus: the best new coffee in Sydney in 2016

A former Single Origin barista steps out on his own with a café that redefines the idea of small but beautiful.

It's week one at Neighbourhood and Seán McManus already knows the names of everyone on the block, if not all their coffee orders. Designers, social-media marketeers, Krav Maga instructors and other sundry heavily inked denizens of lower Surry Hills are already flocking to the tiny storefront, just up from Sydney's Central station, for the chat as much for the friendly barista's distinctive milk-work and expertly pulled espresso.

Apart from the occasional croissant from Penny Fours and doughnut from Woah Nelly, the bean is squarely the focus here. To call Neighbourhood a café is almost overselling it. It's two dudes, McManus and fellow barista Marc Wiebe, and a coffee machine in an eight-square metre shopfront fitted out with superb Australian walnut and Tasmanian oak joinery from Porter & Maple (Sydney's café fitters of the moment), with a couple of stools and a small bench out on the street. Hell, they don't even open on weekends.

Chat and coffee is pretty much all these guys do, so it's a good thing they do both so well. Coffee nerds rock up to discreetly fondle the shiny MVP Synesso Hydra machine, while hot-chocolate and mocha fans roll by to check out the shop's proprietary blend of oat milk.

McManus's coffee credentials are solid. He worked at Single Origin for many a year, and his last port of call was with Artificer - he and the Artificer gang still roast their single-origin beans together.

Neighbourhood's look, meanwhile, is all about warmth, welcome and humble comfort. "I told Porter & Maple I wanted something like a Roger Moore-era James Bond sauna," says McManus. "What could be warmer than a sauna in the '70s?" 

Neighbourhood by Seán McManus, 16b Buckingham St, Surry Hills, NSW. Open 6.30am-3pm Mon-Fri.


Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Morgan McGlone to open a New York-style grill in Melbourne
12.12.2017
First look: Bondi Beach Public Bar unveils menu – and a squish burger
11.12.2017
Andrew McConnell is taking over NGV this summer
07.12.2017
Eight new restaurants and an Art Series hotel opening on the Brisbane River in 2018
06.12.2017
Clayton Wells to open A1 Canteen
27.11.2017
Deliveroo opens Australia’s first delivery-only kitchen
24.11.2017
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Momofuku Seiobo

How to sum up Momofuku Seiobo's 12-course meal? Excellent e...

Bang, Sydney restaurant review

Panache could be a watchword for Bang, Surry Hills’ first fo...

Sydney's new cult burger, layer by layer

Sokyo's Chase Kojima's new project is something completely n...

Silvereye to close this August

Chef Sam Miller is heading back to the UK.

Back to the 1980s at Bennelong

A collection documenting the life of the Sydney Opera House ...

Chase Kojima's rice burger bar opens this week

Prepare to hold a new style of burger glory – wrapped in ric...

Balla

Pronounce it "bah-la" for Piedmont-born artist and composer...

Fish Face

THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED. Sydney's two best fish cooks, ...

Bar H

Is it a bar with good food or a restaurant with a good bar?...

Buon Ricordo

Buon Ricordo exudes Italianness. Passion and professionalis...

A Tavola

Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to Italian food a...

Felix

The Merivale group's homage to the French brasserie is well...

The Fish Shop

You can try and kid yourself by sticking to the raw and cur...

Flying Fish

Here is a restaurant writ large in size, form and aspect - ...

Fratelli Paradiso

Think of Paradiso as a stage, its diners and staff all acto...