Single O has a knack for innovation. In 2003, the coffee industry heavyweight was one of the first Sydney cafes to offer specialty coffee in the city, by championing the humble bean's different varieties, production processes and provenances. They've been standard-bearers in the coffee sustainability stakes, too, with their roaster operating primarily on solar power, and co-developing the prototype for a milk tap dispenser that does away with individual plastic milk bottles.
Now, they're revolutionising the morning ritual yet again with the introduction of self-service batch brew on tap at their Surry Hills cafe.
"We wanted to try to change the game a bit," says retail manager Angus Lindsay. "The idea was inspired by the look and feel of craft breweries, with the goal of offering more choice and faster service."
Each of the four taps pours a distinct style of batch-brewed black coffee from varying single origins – complete with tasting notes – at breakneck speed with the push of a button.
"We've gotten it down to 6.2 seconds," Lindsay says. "The timing is pretty exact."
Since its inception, the company has seen a 20 per cent increase in the consumption of black coffee. There are hopes the new system will entice even more coffee drinkers to the dark (filter coffee) side.
"Black filter coffee makes for a much lighter, easier drinking experience and lets you appreciate a much wider variety of flavours," Lindsay says, adding that Single O rotates through about 30 varieties of filter coffee every year.
The batch bar is but one part of the cafe's sleek new fitout by Luchetti Krelle. The sit-down dining and takeaway service have been consolidated into the original Reservoir Street corner spot, with expanded seating for 40 diners inside.
Espresso loyalists also have a reason to rejoice. As part of the refurb, La Marzocco's under-the-counter Modbar brewing system – the same eye-catching streamlined set-up that's been turning heads at the new Industry Beans outpost on York Street and Gypsy Espresso's Alexandria location – has been installed at the front counter.
Retail manager Angus Lindsay, far right
The menu, too, has been refreshed with native ingredients and Japanese flavours featuring in the all-day options. Think crocodile croquettes with warrigal greens and curry sauce, or fried tempeh with tomato, sea parsley and sesame-dressed black rice.
The new taps are already flowing, but will get a real workout this Wednesday with Single O offering batch brews on the house all day – provided you bring your own cup. Keep Cups at the ready.
Single O, 60-64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, NSW (02) 9211 0665, singleo.com.au, Mon-Fri 6.30am-4pm, Sat 7.30–3pm, Sun 8am-3pm.
Single O's Free Flow: Black Coffee Day is on Wednesday 17 April, 7.30am–3pm, with free batch brew coffee available all day for diners who bring their own reusable cup.