I know that it’s hard to believe, but even within the capital cities of Australia there are some suburbs which are yet to be graced with a cracking specialty coffee venue. Forced to eke out a survival based on sub-par extractions and beans which have been roasted to within an inch of their life, the citizens of these isolated pockets are crying out for something better. Luckily for Sydney’s northern suburb of Chatswood, Elbow Room Espresso is here to offer that special something.
The saying that “It’s the staff who make a business.” was never more true than at Elbow Room. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a booming business and shopping hub, Elbow Room offers up a refreshing oasis with its cleverly designed food menu and an exciting, dynamic range of coffees all served by an incredibly passionate team. This winning combination is no accident — meeting owners John Kwon and Christine Cho, it’s easy to see where this welcoming mix comes from.
John and Christine have a wealth of experience between them, having run a variety of restaurants and cafes over the past ten years. While their previous businesses focused on a wide range of food and drink offerings, they were constantly drawn back to the world of delicious coffee. As their coffee experience developed and multiple trips to Melbourne involved sampling coffees at cafes far and wide, they became infused with an increasing desire to surround themselves with great brews and create their own coffee moments.
Almost two years ago, they set about realising this dream with the launch of Elbow Room. As they love the energy created by a small space which is filled with the happy buzz of customers, the café isn’t massive — but it is perfectly proportioned and offers a range of seating, meaning you can either perch while refuelling on a quick espresso mid-shopping or settle in for a tasty brunch and aromatic filter in comfort. With windows across the entire front of the café, the space is filled with light and the bar is a great place to settle in and people watch. Over their two years of operation, Christine has noticed a distinct increase in her customers’ level of coffee knowledge and engagement. As one of the first to offer a specialty coffee experience in the suburb, there’s no doubt that their pioneering efforts have helped lift the standards.
To bring their vision to life, John and Christine brought together a team of staff who share their passion for exceptional coffee and great service. Many of the staff have been with Elbow Room almost since the beginning and the barista team, Clare, Ben, Novan and Emerson, wield their mad skills with deadly style, while chef Tory uses magic to turn out an exciting menu from 2sqm of kitchen space without gas!
The breadth of the coffee offering at Elbow Room speaks of the team’s curiosity about specialty coffee. While Dark Horse sits pretty as a delicious house blend option, there are also a wide range of rotating single origins on offer through both espresso and filter. Having recently launched a fast and flavoursome batch brew program using the Marco Bru unit, fans of filter can now have an aromatic cup in their hands in record time. On offer at the time of writing is the Minor Esquival, yellow honey process from Costa Rica. With its beautiful honey and toasted hazelnut flavours nestled up against a gentle acidity, it has fans all around the country! While she loves experimenting with all the new coffees coming across her bar, Christine starts every day right with a tasty piccolo of the Dark Horse. As the weather heats up, Elbow Room is especially worth a visit for their cracking cold drip which is beautifully presented with a spherical ice ball. Keep your eyes peeled for some fun new additions to the cold coffee menu in the coming months too!
If you’re settling in for a longer stretch and looking for some tasty bites to pair with your coffee, the kitchen at Elbow Room has you covered. While there are definitely some more experimental options on the menu, head chef Tory has focused on a core of great ingredients prepared with attention to detail to create some really satisfying dishes. Deceptively simple, finely poached eggs have a strong fan base as the dependable go-to option, while the chorizo and fried egg hot dog is a fine contender for lunch. If you’re looking for something just as fulfilling but a little fresher, the poached chicken salad with orange, toasted almonds and citrus dressing is a great way to awaken the taste buds!
The curiosity and passion which were the catalyst for starting Elbow Room are still going strong and it’s exciting to see both the coffee and the food continuing to evolve. The success of the cafe is testament to the fact that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel — delivering excellent coffee, tasty food and, above all, a welcoming service still forms the cornerstone of a great venue. If you’re on the hunt for a new local or just happen to be passing through the northern suburbs, I’d highly recommend pulling up a stool at Elbow Room Espresso!
Elbow Room Espresso
6a Sprint Street,
Chatswood NSW 2067
Monday – Friday 6:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday 7:30am – 4:00pm
© Photos (aside from image 14) provided with permission by Tim Williams from Tim Williams Photography. All rights reserved by photographer
© Image 14 provided with permission from Smudge Publishing. All rights reserved by photographer