Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published November 21st 2011
If you could pick only one Sydney café to go to for the rest of your life, to pick Café Hernandez would be cheating. It's a twenty-four hour café, which is unusual for Sydney, and its clientele and ambiance are constantly changing. Find it on 60 Kings Cross Road, Potts Point – a fairly unassuming place, with tables outside and the obligatory specials chalkboard. Inside, however, everything changes: the décor is cluttered and eclectic, from fake masterpieces to drawings of the owner's wife. There's even a standing piano, right next to one of the tables, but launching into Chopsticks mid-coffee will probably not serve to impress your date.
If you arrive at Café Hernandez at any reasonable hour, you'll probably be sitting outside, braving the Sydney cold air (if you can find any). Try the rich Spanish hot chocolate, at four dollars and fifty cents, a famous Café Hernandez offering. The ordinary hot chocolate is nice as well – it's hard to screw up hot chocolate – so if you've got a burning hatred of all things Spanish or can't spare the extra dollar, you can just go for that.
As for coffee, Café Hernandez does something very special. Patrons can pay an extra thirty cents and opt for one of the fifteen special blends: African, American, Brazilian, caramel, Colombian, Costa Rica, Cronulla, Ethiopian, French, Guatemala, Kenya Pearl, New Guinea, Royal Kenya, Nicaragua Gold or Swiss. There's something in there for everyone – Swiss blend, for example, is decaf, Kenya Pearl blend is sweet, and the American blend is weak while the caramel blend is very strong. All coffee is roasted on-site, so you can't go too far wrong whatever you choose. Your friends may still ridicule you for picking the decaf Swiss, though.
The atmosphere of Café Hernandez does change over time, though: from backpackers early on, to starving artists, to pre-going out coffee drinkers, to starving artists, to post-going out partiers looking to sober up, back to backpackers. Taxi drivers and paramedics drop in from time to time on their shift break as well, thankful that they've found a place that's guaranteed to be open. Go in the morning and order a Brazilian blend coffee, then go again late at night and order the Royal Kenya – you'll think it's two different cafes.
In terms of food, Café Hernandez acquits itself well. There's the standard parade of foccacias and sandwiches – items that can be easily prepared at 3am on a weeknight – and some very interesting Spanish delicacies for dessert. The churros, at two dollars each, are probably the best value. They're delicious, too: sweet and doughy. Spanish rice pudding is also available, along with Portugese custard. If you're in the area immediately after a night out, there's really no excuse to get fast food when desserts this delicious are available.
There are some minor issues with Café Hernandez, like there are with any café. The seating outside is on a slight incline, which some people would presumably be annoyed by. The place is small and can get packed pretty quickly, and the menu is hardly extensive. However, if you're making those criticisms, what on earth do you expect from a 24-hour café? Café Hernandez provides tasty food, some exotic desserts, and a gigantic range of coffee blends – if you want anything more than that at four in the morning, you're going to have to make it yourself.