City Extra

Coffee: 7/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 14/40

Have you ever thought, ‘what do typical Sydney tourists drink when they’re in Sydney?’ Well the good news is you’re not alone. I have also thought about this. Yes we live in one of the best coffee capitals of the world (well I think so), but is that really the way your average mum and dad tourist see it? Circular Quay is where the tourist is at, so, putting my body on the line I headed there.

City Extra is a name that inspires fear in many a person at least for one reason or another. This ever-popular tourist café, found at Circular Quay between wharfs 3 and 4, is the Quay’s 24 hour go to; known for youth drinking, bad food and high prices and I must note one of Sydney’s most popular cafes by total trade.

What tempted me to try this crazy idea you may ask, well outside City Extra was a sign claiming “best coffee in Sydney” so not wanting to miss out on such an opportunity I headed in.

Walking in, let’s be honest, is typically an embarrassing experience. I was not disappointed. As I took a step towards the cafe two mates, who just happen to be walking past on their way to Manly, stopped me and asked me what I was doing, ‘the coffee thing’ I replied, “City Extra”, they laughed, I sent them on their way.

The last time I had come here would have been years ago, searching out a place to get a drink at 3am. Luckily for me this time I arrive at lunch time and stand and wait at the ‘please stand here’ sign with a few German tourists.

Is the sign a challenge? I ponder. I wait and wait, wtf is going on is my initial thought. Finally, a girl comes over and asks me “what do I want?”, a table would be the obvious answer, but I ask her anyway “a table” I ask. “Ya smoke?” she quickly says, “er… nope” I answer. “You’re outside then”, “ok…” I reply. We then go into a pseudo Mexican showdown for some reason till she takes me to an outside table.

Upon taking a seat she asks me, “when’s your friend showing up”, “er, it’s just me” I reply, “ok” she says as I suddenly feel like I should have brought someone, or made my mates to stay for this fine dining experience.

She then puts a menu down and says “better order now before we forget you”, “just a coffee” I reply,  “and?” she exclaims, “that’s it, just a flat white”, “flat white?”, “a flat white” I respond as she starts to walk away.

City Extra, unsurprisingly for a weekend lunchtime on a sunny day, is packed. While I do feel a little guilty for using a table for ‘just a coffee’, post my discussion with a staff member I’m feeling far less greedy.

The coffee comes out with reasonable speed, this time by a different girl who, I should say, seems far more accommodating. She even asks if I would like a glass of water. She brought one back with ice. Tale of two staffers.

From first impressions, the coffee does not look too bad. There is a reasonably nice pour pattern and upon inspection it seems to have a good portion to it. The cup was a let down though with some old cream or something milky stuck to it close to the lip.

The aroma’s characteristics quickly identify it as Vittoria and the aroma it is as you would expect from this brand.

Upon tasting it I found it to be ridiculously hot and I mean burning my tongue hot. What a rookie error, it’s a nice 22C day and there was steam bellowing off the top.

When I got around to tasting it, the drink was more disappointing then even your typical Vittoria – I found the drink had a watery roasted taste with a milky dry after taste. Overall it tasted a little on the burnt milk side… It did seem reasonably balanced however.

Letting it cool, the initial balance brought out by the heat seemed to have left the drink and it just fell apart leaving me with a strong bitter tastes. On the plus side the milk did not develop a skin (yay), so staying positive.

Overall, City Extra does fill a need in the market. It’s for those who don’t know better and those looking for something to eat or drink that is not Maccas between 1am and 5am. Coffee is just rubbish and should be avoided at all costs, but if you’re stuck then you’re stuck. I’m sure I would like it more if I needed a hit at 4am. Service is clearly a hit or miss. I reckon this is the best-placed worst café in Sydney. Any other contenders?

1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10 (solid pour, dirty cup)
Experience (taste and smell): 2/10
Coffee total: 7/20

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): If the Daily Telegraph went into the café business
Cool?: 4/10 (it has views of the bridge and opera house you can’t rate this down!)
Service: 3/10 (total hit and miss experience)
Cafe: 7/20
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 14/40

View Larger Map
City Extra Circular Quay on Urbanspoon

One thought on “City Extra

  1. I completely agree with what you have said here. Circular Quay has a preached high standard but every time I have dined there, whether it be for coffee or food, I am extremely disappointed. I work as a barista, but even so, I don't place high expectations for new places. On arrival at City Extra, I was told to “wait there.” The lady then proceeded to direct me to an outside seat, and walked away. I ushered her over about three times because after 15 minutes, I had not received service, and only after the third, I obtained her attention. I ordered a Chai Latte, because I wasn't confident, and after about 10 minutes, I received the worst drink Latte ive ever had. It was only just warm, the texturing was off, with no attempt at art, and more froth than milk (I kid you not). After approaching the lady who served me, I provided recommendations to improve the product, as it was weak and really unpleasant. Her response was “My boss was the one who made it, and I hate him, so feel free to complain to him.” To pay for my Latte (which is so overpriced) I had to speak to the manager, and upon providing the same recommendations he replied “I don't actually know how to make coffee, I am sorry you were stuck with mine, as I am filling in.” He then cut me off, abruptly handed my change to me, and then walked away. Definitely not going back xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s