I travelled to Sydney from my Melbourne coffee-haven home for MAD SYD, a food symposium that’s been called “the G20 of food.” The theme of MAD SYD was “tomorrow’s meal,” and I was excited to visit one of the most buzzy specialty coffee-focused cafes in Sydney while I was there. News of Edition Coffee Roasters’ intriguing food and beverage service had already made its way to Sprudge headquarters in Portland, Oregon—later I'd learn, too, that Edition was the Sydney cafe of choice of Rene Redzepi, MAD founder and chef/owner of famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma.
This is brothers Daniel Jackson and Corie Sutherland’s first project together, but both are cafe and coffee veterans. After years of coffee industry experience in Australia and abroad, they paired up to open a cafe and roastery in the city they love. Conceptually, Edition is a fusion of Nordic and Japanese cuisine and beverages. The brothers have found the sweet spot where the two cuisines overlap and pushed boundaries by venturing out on either side of that unconventional Venn diagram. On the most basic level, what Nordic and Japanese cuisines share is a focus on clean flavors, umami, and pickled local produce. Rather than mechanism or technique, the spotlight here is on ingredients.
Sutherland lived and worked in Japan, and told me that he was moved by Japanese dining experiences. “There is a real sense of pride in what they do,” he said, “but it is disciplined.” He also developed a deep appreciation for Nordic cuisine first through his interest in Redzepi. When Redzepi moved Noma—including the restaurant's entire kitchen and service staff—to Sydney for ten weeks, Sutherland was delighted. He had always wanted to emulate Redzepi’s ability to “create something that had a magic to it, like an in-house secret.” When Noma landed on Australia’s shores, just a hop, skip, and a train ride to Edition, the teams became great friends. In addition to the cafe in Darlinghurst, Edition operates a coffee cart in Barangaroo, which was Noma’s temporary neighborhood.
Sutherland and Jackson are most proud of their roasts and coffee service. “Coffee service is paramount; we are a coffee company,” says Sutherland, who is responsible for all aspects of coffee service and roasting. He’s a passionate follower of coffee culture. Inspirations include the work of international coffee superstars Tim Wendleboe and Gwilym Davies. In 2013, Sutherland attended the World Barista Championship in Melbourne, where Davies made him an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe that changed his life; he’d never had a coffee like that. He became obsessed with barista technique and developing his palate. From there, he decided that he wanted to cultivate a coffee service in his future cafe that would excite customers like that Yirgacheffe excited him.
Now Sutherland roasts beans offsite for retail and cafe use. Ultimately, he hopes to visit the farms and farmers from whom they source and learn more about green coffee ethics. It’s clear that both Sutherland and Jackson—in their distinct but equally important jobs at Edition—are deeply passionate about quality, which extends to include cafe equipment by brands like La Marzocco and Mahlkonig.
Keeping espresso-based and filter coffee company on the drinks menu are specifically curated tea and juice offerings. Prodjuice provides organic cold-pressed juices, including a healthy-sounding concoction of pear, fennel, rainbow chard, and lemon. Edition is one of only a handful of cafes in Australia to serve the Elixir Specialty Coffee drink. As the menu reports, it looks like whisky, feels like tea, and is made from coffee. The drink is only available in select international outlets: San Diego, Los Angeles, Tijuana, and Sydney.
The first item on the food menu is smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich that is quintessential Danish fare. Although in this item the scales are generously tipped towards the Nordic aspect of their menu, the sandwich is topped with sake-cured beef, pickles, activated seaweed, blackberry, and burnt butter. Many fusion concepts take one dish—usually one that’s famously a pillar of a cuisine—and add one or two elements that aren’t traditional. Edition’s fusion concept manages to honor elements of Nordic and Japanese cuisines where they overlap, and highlight the unorthodox relationship between them. On traditional smørrebrød you could expect smoked or cured fish, some pickled vegetables, and a fat of some kind on a piece of rye. Edition’s version is appropriately still called smørrebrød, resisting the popular temptation to rename all fusion dishes with a campy portmanteau.
The Mushroom Pond is an umami bomb of mushrooms: warm mushroom broth, mushroom cream, udon noodles, and soft herbs including nasturtium leaves. The menu changes frequently to reflect seasonality, but diners can expect creative takes on classic Sydney cafe fare, like chrysanthemum bircher muesli.
If the brothers behind Edition Coffee Roasters have anything to say about the conversation their friend Redzepi started, “tomorrow’s meal” includes both creative fusion and single-origin coffee. And that future looks deliciously bright.
Photos courtesy of Daniel Grendon and Edition Coffee Roasters.