"I don't know anyone's names but I know all of their coffee orders," laughs Vasili Doukakis.
His warm smile is clearly a big part of the attraction here at Coffee Box Espresso, which is literally in a box perched on the edge of Harbourside Shopping Centre.
Vasili is a coffee fanatic, who’d rather be coaxing his coffee out of a Kees van der Westen Spirit - even if it does mean the odd burn. He honed his barista skills with four years at Sydney coffee standout, Workshop Espresso, and is now bringing them to the hoards who cross the swinging Pyrmont Bridge over Cockle Bay on their way to work each day.
As you might imagine, the mainstay of the business is coffee, and here Vasili has chosen to work with Toby’s Estate.
He’s doing so on a red and black La Marzocco coffee machine that he wryly explains: “anyone can make coffee on.” This bodes well for when he isn’t personally behind the machine, though just a year into his business, you’re likely to find him onsite six days a week.
In Vasili’s capable hands, both a Latte ($3.50) and a strong Flat White ($3.50) impress with round flavour, and the requisite foam work. Interestingly though, it's in his bottled Cold Brew ($6.50) that the coffee - an Ethiopian Kochere - shines brightest. Packaged in a hip flask you can take to work, this tea-like coffee has a clean, crisp flavour that’s delicious and energising over ice.
While most people choose to take their breakfast on the go, we chose to eat in at their gleaming silver bar. There are only four stools available, but they do give you a good chance to chat with your friendly barista over the coffee machine. They also allow you to order the new Feta, Avocado, Tomato Bruschetta ($9) – one of the only menu items that isn't designed to travel well. It’s a bright, fresh way to start your day, with bright tomato, smashed avocado, excellent feta and some flavour-enhancing onion up top.
Sandwiched inside a Brickfields croissant, the Truffle Scramble Roll ($9) gives you your scrambled eggs, some ham and the earthy scent and flavour of truffles, in a breakfast you can eat with one hand.
They’ve also got your breakfast muffin needs taken care of, with a moist Raspberry Muffin ($4) topped with muesli and jam that (like most of the front counter contents) is made in-house.
Teamed with a Snap! I’ve Got The Power remix thumping in the background, this short pit stop really managed to lift my work-day morning.
Coffee Box Espresso
Shop K18, Harbourside Shopping Centre, 2-10 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour
Ph: (02) 9281 2853