Cafe Giulia


Abercrombie st, Chippendale

This morning we came back from Wagga and went to our very favourite cafe in Sydney.  It’s our favourite because

1.  The chai is first rate.

2.  The coffee is first rate (so I hear….)

3.  The food choice is amazing and every dish is delicious. Consistently.

4.  Super prompt and friendly service and absolutely sense that you’re being rushed out.

It just dawned on me how I can tell there’s a chance of a good chai coming out of the pot.  It’s pretty simple.  If it comes out brown, you’re in with a good chance.  If it’s beige it might be drinkable but if it’s still off-white then it’s likely you’ve been served a cup of hot milk. 

Marry.  And maybe try the rhubarb waffles while you’re there.

The Espresso Room


110 Glover st, Cremorne

This morning I decided to take a tranquil stroll on one of those picturesque, tree-lined street on the North Shore.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and then I hit Military Rd.  Peaceful morning finished, I stopped at The Espresso Room for a chai.  It’s a cosy little place that faces directly onto Military Rd.  They serve T2 chai and were happy to make it brewed on soy milk, but once it was delivered, I had to wait a while for it to brew and push the tea a bit more through the strainer to get a bit more flavour.  Unfortunately it was more of a chai tea than what I was after.

Avoid.  You can do better at Shot on Military half a block up.

Botanica Garden Cafe


61a Bay Rd, Waverton

I cannot believe how great this café is. I don’t really want to report on it, because not only is it one of the best suburban cafes I’ve been to, it’s never been busy and I’d hate to get the word out. It has all the hard to find elements of a quality kid-friendly café and it’s got really, really good chai!!

  • Easy parking
  • Big spaces between tables
  • High chairs
  • Garden feature up the back that includes a water feature with giant goldfish
  • Delicious food
  • Super friendly and helpful staff
  • Outdoor wet weather seating

…..and it’s on the North Shore. Unbelievable.

Marry.  I’m going to be crossing the bridge a whole lot more for this one.


The Boathouse at Balmoral


Balmoral Beach, Mosman

This is the most stunning setting for a cafe.  It’s beautifully decorated inside and set right on the water.  Literally.  You’re in a boatshed and the water is visible in gaps between the planks on the floor.  It’s a bit pricey, but if I lived in Balmoral, I probably wouldn’t be worrying about a couple of extra dollars for brekky.  Or caring that it costs $8 an hour for parking.  I did notice I wasn’t the only tourist, when I spotted quite a few people sharing one meal between two, when they noticed the price.

Enough about the price, more about the chai.  But just before- a heads up this is another $5 per cup plus $3 bridge toll and $8 for parking.  Just saying…that’s $16 for the experience.

The baristas here were a bit standoffish to begin, but then became super friendly and helpful when I mentioned I was blogging about chai.  You need to order a chai tea- the chai latte is made as a powder.  The secret to their unique tasting chai tea- they buy their chai leaf mix from a coffee roaster, make it concentrated in a pot with a hit of boiling water and add some fresh ginger just  before they heat the soy milk and add it to the mix. 

It was nice, but a bit heavy on the ginger.  Maybe more honey would balance this out, or perhaps I could ask for less ginger next time.  Either way, I’ll go back.  Because if I live in Sydney, then I should make use of such an unbelievably beautiful setting for a cafe.

Verdict: A bit like a schoolies week- snog, snog, snog.

Hint:  Order as a chai tea.  Their latte is made with powder.

Store Espresso, Leichhardt


Store Espresso Leichhardt
Marion St, Leichhardt

I was very disappointed in this morning’s chai. I offered my brother in law, an avid coffee drinker, to take a chance and have a sip of my chai. I don’t know if he believed me that a chai doesn’t normally taste like plain soy milk, but when he shuddered, I felt like I’d let the team down. Here’s why.

I ordered a chai tea and it came like most chai lattes, made with leaves and served in a pot with frothy soy milk. The chai itself was very pretty but weak (a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow singing) with hardly a trace of any spice or tea flavour at all.  There were a few problems with the service that made it feel like a three course meal. First came the cup and saucer, then the chai and finally some honey. The teaspoon never eventuated.

I hope to update with a less lacklustre review next time. But for the moment I’ll avoid.

Verdict: Avoid
Hint: Order it as chai tea-their chai latte is made with powder.

Badde Manors


Badde Manors
Glebe Point Rd, Glebe

I’m about to make a huge call……I think this is the best chai in Sydney. It’s spicy, it’s nutty, served hot, with a hint of honey to balance the spice. In fact, this is the best chai I’ve ever tasted. Ever. You need to go try it. Now.

As well as serving amazing chai, Badde Manors make a whole lot of other hot drinks and also serve vegan and vegetarian food. It’s a charmingly pokey kind of place on a Glebe corner and it’s been around for decades. I first went there about 15 years ago (cue wind chimes….)

It was 1998 and I had just got my driver’s licence. I was still living at home with my parents on the upper north shore and hadn’t yet made the big move to the lower north shore. I had however, recently discovered the Harbour Bridge. And you could drive it to a little corner of the world known as the Inner West. I dipped my toe in at the shallow end and found myself in Glebe. With my brother. Whom I love.

Anyway, we were walking down Glebe Point Rd in doc martens and 501s. Badde Manors appeared around the corner, so we pretended to be grown up and went inside, even though neither of us drank coffee. There was a huge selection of hot drinks to choose from, so I ordered a hot apple cider, which was ok but it paled in comparison to Joel’s drink.

Now I’ve talked people into doing things before, but this time, I outdid myself. Joel was going to order a plain old hot chocolate. Bo-ring! Why not take a risk, I asked. Live on the edge, i jeered. Try something new, I pleaded. Once I set down the challenge, Joel really rose to the occasion. However, once his hot soy carob arrived, he took one sip and spat it out. Hot soy carob? What was he thinking?

Verdict: The best chai in Sydney