Artificer, Surry Hills: if Sydney has a more pared-down specialty offer, we’d like to see it

Artificer focuses on coffee, and just coffee, to the exclusion of all other distractions.


“When it’s gone, it’s gone,” says Artificer’s Dan Yee (centre). Photo: the Coffee Cities Project

If there’s a coffeehouse in Sydney with a more pared-down offer than Artificer, we’d like to see it. This beech wood and concrete space on a Surry Hills corner deals in coffee and nothing else – no snacks, no pastries, no food of any description. Don’t come hungry.

That’s a big ask, but Dan Yee (formerly of Salvage Specialty Coffee) and Shoji Sasa (Mecca and Single Origin) have the coffee chops to pull it off.

Artificer’s approach is deliberate, explains Dan Yee: with only coffee, he says, they have to differentiate. Not between themselves and other coffeehouses, but between the different beans on offer.

“So we buy small amounts of coffee when it’s in season and roast to highlight each coffee’s qualities.”

“When it’s gone it’s gone,” he says: Artificer offered more than 35 different coffees in the year after they opened on Boxing Day 2014.


Silky body and caramel sweetness – a Rwanda Cyimpindu. Photo: the Coffee Cities Project

There are usually half a dozen coffees on rotation, with new ones in each month. Yee and Sasa but a lot from Melbourne Coffee Merchants, and Melburners will appreciate the Market Lane-like quality of Artificer’s roasting: the coffee here tends toward lifted fruit, light body and clean, sweet flavours.

A pourover of Rwanda Cyimpindu, from a small group of farmers in Rwanda’s Western Province, is vibrant and clean, with tangy fruit and a syrupy mouthfeel. A silky body and some caramel sweetness comes out as it cools.


Short blacks are fruit-driven and light-bodied. Photo: the Coffee Cities Project

But the roasting style is really highlighted in a short black of Kenya Ichimarra: juicy cherry/berry fruit, a light body and a long, sweet finish.

Roasting happens off-site at St Peters, though the on-site roaster should be going by early 2016. Also coming: blinds to shade that north-east facing window from the summer sun. Visitors from out of town should watch the Copenhagen-style bikeway out the front: the lanes go in both directions, and Sydney cyclists appear to take no prisoners.

Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery

Where 547 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
When Tues–Fri 7am–3pm; Sat–Sun 8am–2pm
Food No
Coffee ★★★★☆

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