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You wouldn't notice this place if it wasn't for the crowd of people standing in the driveway. Tucked away in a backstreet in Alexandria, between warehouses and large industrial buildings, The Grounds of Alexandria is the latest in a stream of concept cafes to open in Sydney.
The owners behind this ambitious new venture include hospitality names; Jack Hanna, the former world latte art champion, Ramzey Choker, food importer and hospitality icon and the team from Jack & The Bean coffee wholesalers.
The Grounds hasn't been done on the cheap. Interior designers, The Artistry, who list Beach Haus, Darling Island and The Oaks on their portfolio, have created a space which retains the charm of the industrial building while adding a modern and chic edge. Rustic exposed brick walls, high wood ceilings and moss green trimmings, combined with subtle globe lighting and retro-coloured coffee cups creates a dynamic space that is functional yet also beautiful. In the back area of the cafe, just near the open kitchen, coffee roasters are hidden behind floor-to-ceiling windows, giving diners a glimpse into how their lattes have been made. The educational focus of The Grounds is clear, especially with the addition of a "research facility", dedicated to experimenting with blends and roasting processes. Blackboard crash-course diagrams about how to roast coffee line the walls while a rare La Marzocco espresso machine sits proudly, in all its lime green glory, pumping out takeaways.
If you happen to arrive at peak hour, simply grab a sweet treat and a takeaway coffee and perch in the garden, where edible herbs and trimmed hedges grow in healthy abundance. Once you manage to snag a table, the menu is in keeping with the wholesome and natural approach of the entire cafe, focusing on rustic and homemade dishes such as breakfast quinoa, house baked muesli and innovative sandwiches and salads. The slow-roasted pull-pork sandwich is a must but if you are after something lighter, any dish that includes a slice of their artisan bread (it has a bakery too), will be a highlight.