Sunrise sessions go with coffee like long hikes go with cold beers; it’s a winning formula. Explorer Lachy Firmstone, along with other members of the Explorer crew have put together this list of the best coffee shops for a sunrise mission in NSW to help you find the perfect brew to match your view.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not going to sacrifice one of your two precious sleep-ins a week, to crawl out of bed and into nature in the name of exploration and not grab some hot bean water on the way.
So what we’ve done is we’ve put the best-looking Explorer’s heads together, and come up with a red-eye lover’s list of the best coffee and breaky spots within driving distance of some of the more popular sunrise spots in NSW. Don’t forget your KeepCup!
Sunrise: Wattamolla Beach / Northern Royal National Park
Coffee: Audley Café or West End Espresso
The reality of this one is that the Royal National Park is huge, so your preference will come down to how long your beard is versus how deep your patience is. As it is we’re going to give you two options. Your first option, is to drive 10 minutes from the Wattamolla parking lot to the Audley Café, which is a 3 second walk from where you bought your parking pass in the visitor centre. You can enjoy your spot of brekky with a nice view of the Port Hacking river.
Alternatively, if you’re happy to drive 5 minutes outside of the RNP heading north, it’s hard to go past West End Espresso at Jannali. Best coffee in the Shire I think- controversial claim, I know- and the service is always top notch; but from the actual beach it’s 20 minutes drive, and you’re not always guaranteed to get a seat.
Explorer: Lachy Firmstone
Sunrise: Mona Vale Beach
In the inevitable sequel sunsets and beers, we’ve got a terrific call here, but for now the resounding vote for a coffee in Mona Vale goes to Blacksmith. It’s a 10 minute walk or 2 minute drive from the beach and the caffeine hits are very solid. I [the writer] can personally recommend their cold drip coffees, but if you’re a flat or cap man then they’ve got you covered there too.
Explorer: Callum Wouters
These blokes have just started doing cold brews and they will knock your socks off. The best this Explorer has had. Period. They’ll even give them to you take-away in a glass bottle, which means you can have a refreshing caffeine hit on the hike without ending up with a soggy cardboard mess in the bottom of your bag. Café 2773 is perfect for a sunrise session at Tunnel View or pre-loading for an overnight hike to Springwood.
Explorer: Liam Foster
Sunrise: Govetts Leap
Not the fedora-clad internet hackers but the café up in the Blueys. Recommended personally by the Big Dog and original Explorer, they do a mean brew and the food is all sourced locally; so expect the menu to change on the more frequent side of things, but usually for the fresher! You can find Anonymous a whole 5 minute drive from Govett’s Leap Lookout.
Explorer: Henry Brydon
Sunrise: Bombo Quarry
Coffee: The Hungry Monkey
The cappuccinos are generous, the music is usually good and they do a mean smashed avo on sourdough. This place is the reason young Explorers can’t afford homes in Sydney, allegedly. The Hungry Monkey is trendy enough that you know you’ll get a good coffee but you won’t have to drink it out of a vintage jam jar from the late Victorian era. A good shout if there ever was one. Head to the quarry when you’re done to catch the light playing on the basalt columns.
Explorer: Lachy Firmstone
Sunrise: The Three Sisters
Coffee: Cassiopeia Katoomba
The crew at Cassiopeia have been roasting specialty coffee since 2006 and by now they’re pretty bloody good at it. Taking up the ground floor of a converted townhouse, the sparse interior of the Café/Roastery is symptomatic of the single-minded focus on what’s going on in your cup. Try the batch brew if you want to see just how versatile beans can be. Katoomba is the largest town in the Blue Mountains with countless views over the Jamison Valley minutes from the café and the starting points for the iconic overnight trek up Mt Solitary.
Explorer: Tim Ashelford
Sunrise: Olympian Rock
Coffee: Red Door Café
This nice little café is perfect to visit for a bite to eat before heading down to the waters, Olympian Rock, or basically anywhere in Leura. It’s usually packed for lunch so why not beat the crowds and get in a sunrise session before brekky? Close runner up would be Leura Garage; mint coffees as well, but always stupidly busy.
Explorer: Jake Anderson
NB. Since publishing this article, we’ve been told that Olympian rock is currently closed due to recent rock fall, as well as a lot of other trails and lookouts in the Blue Mountians. Please do some research beforehand and heed all warnings from authorities.
Disclaimer: No doubt there are a good dozen sunrise spots and coffee shots we’ve left out. Feel free to shoot us a message or comment with some other suggestions.
Feature image by Rachel Dimond @wanderer_rachel
Sunrise and Coffee, they’re made for each other
Sunrise Without The Crowds // Mt Cordeaux (QLD)