Tuesday, 3 April 2012

York Lane/Annex Espresso Bar - Sydney Australia

A fortnight has gone past and I am late again. Apologies from me.
I am back in Sydney again, I hope you have all enjoyed my last 2 blogs that were completed in Singapore. If you know of any Australian roasters/cafes owners in anywhere else in the world, please tell me. 

If you are wondering why I am writing about 2 cafes this week....just bear with me, I will lead you to the answer. 

Sydney city laneways were formalised but not purposely built to any planner's grid. Laneways are developed to provide access to the rear of buildings and they can be charming walkways like Angel Place or Tank Stream Way.

A submission by the Central Sydney Planning Inquiry in August 1992 has highlighted the loss of laneways in the city which is something that is providing Sydney its character. From 1969 - 1989 Sydney Council generated about 57 million dollars from the sales of laneways.

In March 1993, an inventory of Sydney laneways was taken which reported a total of 107 laneways in Sydney City. Tours are available today to show you to some of the laneways. Check this link for Laneways Tour Brochure

In the Central Sydney Planning, it is recommended that York Lane is to be retained with enhancement to pedestrian amenity. With the blessings of the government, a unique cafe York Lane ( YOLA ) is born. The story begins now...

What's the idea behind the cafe name?
We simply want to take on the identity of the street and hence we named it York Lane but when I was interviewing Dieter, he mentioned YoLa (which is simply the first 2 characters of the 2 words). Restricted by council requirements, the sign of the cafe cannot stretch beyond a certain width to prevent smashing into the side of a truck hence YoLa. 
YoLa Location
York Lane
Wynyard, Sydney

Mon to Wed - 0630 to 2200
Thur to Sun - 0630 to 2400

If you are coming from Erskine Street


If you are coming from Margaret Street side. 

Coffee beans: Block 136
It is called Block 136 because on the council old map, York Lane Cafe is located within the block that is known as Block 136. With some diggings, I managed to find one of the old maps from Sydney Archives. 

Why this location?
Council was giving grant for laneway shop and Dieter always like the whole laneway cafe culture. He is excited to be able to bring back the old laneway cafe culture into the new Sydney. So what does old laneway culture looks like? Abit like this, for example sitting on the crates and having coffee out of it. If you are planning to visit York Lane, on the same street you can also sit on the same type of milk crates and enjoy a pizza from the Italian pizza store that is about 10 metres down the lane. 

If he can, Dieter would have got all his customers to sit in the laneway on the crate. While the idea of drinking a coffee on a crate is new to someone like me. Dieter is flattered by all the attention that he has been receiving because to him YoLa was not anything dramatically special and he did not expect the Sydney office crowd to be so excited by what is considered as a style that has been around for centuries. 

Owner Name: Dieter Steinbusch (picture) and John Ubaldi

This is his 4th or 5th cafe ventures. He strongly believe in that cafe needs to be setup with thoughts and not just a a simple gathering of tables, chairs and an Espresso machine. He gets disappointed when he goes to a cafe and felt that minimum effort was put into the place. 

Now let me introduce a new term to you, 'Repurpose' - that is to reuse something and give that item a new lease of life. It is a bit more complex than just recycling or reusing because repurpose meant that something like an airline trolley can be repurpose into shelves such as those used in YoLa (see left hand side of the picture). 

In fact many things were given a new lease of life in YoLa. The rubber floor, the English oak wall, even the ceilings lights are made up of shallot bowls. The next time you visit YoLa, give yourself a bit more time to appreciate the environment. Creative you would say and that is exactly what Dieter and John planned to present. They built this environment with a no money mindset and they believe that only when you are restrained financially will there be creativity in the use of materials and decor items. 

So why did you setup YoLa as a cafe bar?
Because in Europe that how it is. If you feel like abit of alcohol with your coffee, go for it. 

What do you like about working in the cafe/industry?
Everyday is different, loves the variety. Is like being on a stage and creating a new play everyday. 

Okay now why we have Annex Espresso Bar in the title?
That is because, in order to get YoLa, they would need to lease the cafe situated in the Clarence Street office building. Is a cafe that is totally different from YoLa. As you walk into YoLa on the far left is the entry to Annex. 

So from a rustic looking YoLa cafe, you enter to the clean and atypical of a Sydney office cafe. But even in an atypical cafe, you will still see sights of repurpose such as the tables and the stripe pattern wall paper all to go with the caravan/art studio theme. 

Why is it called annex?
Annex refers to the side bit of a caravan that is like a chill out place, which is the purpose of this cafe. A chill out place for the office workers. 

Annex is also the preparation ground for the food in YoLa because they can not cook in YoLa due to building restriction. If you are thinking that both cafes will be serving the same beans, well... there is a surprise for you. Both cafes actually served different beans because according to Dieter, Block 136 is blended to suit the atmosphere of YoLa. Drinking it in Annex would simply do it no justice. 

To end the interview
What is your favorite coffee?
Latte - Early Morning
Piccolo - 10am
Long Black with Grappa  - Lunch
Espresso - 3pm

Cappuccino Price Index: AUD $3.50

Well people that's all from me this fortnight. I hope you will enjoy the blog and have a Happy Easter!

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