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Circular Quay Cafe / Skittle Lane

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Skittle Lane blend their love of iconic, understated design with their passion for quality coffee to create spaces that are warm, inviting and effortlessly beautiful. Their refined approach considers all elements from functionality to form. The Sydney husband-wife duo behind Skittle Lane, Jodie Foster and Dean Wooding, followed the success of their popular CBDBondi and Manly cafes by launching Skittle Lane number four, seven years after the original Skittle Lane opened in the CBD. This time, they brought the minimalist, design-forward aesthetic they’re known for to the Quay Quarter Lanes precinct, on the fringes of Circular Quay. 

Though the space is compact, with seating limited to a low wall inside and two seats out the front, Foster says Skittle Lane Circular Quay encourages a more European coffee-drinking experience. 

A tiny, triangular Circular Quay cafe brings a European coffee-drinking experience to Sydney

‘You stand up with your coffee and just chat,’ says Foster. ‘I love that, it’s less formal. Everyone gets to know each other, it’s really cool.’

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The Circular Quay cafe was a long time coming ‘ Foster, who previously worked in medicine, and Wooding, a builder turned barista, signed the lease in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. 

Foster, co-owner of Skittle Lane, mum of two, and medical equipment salesperson, is also the brand’s in-house designer. She is single-handedly responsible for the curation of the gorgeous details, colours, and aesthetic in each Skittle Lane store, and their online presence. The inspiration comes from a range of arthouses and personal choices, from high fashion, to interiors and architecture, to lifestyle and travel. 

Skittle Lane’s full coffee offering is available at the Circular Quay location. Its signature house espresso is a ‘beautiful single-origin Colombian’. They don’t serve blends, instead the focus is on buying top-quality green coffee. The menu is always rotating, with other single origins for filter, batch-brew and pour-over. Iced coffee, a syrupy overnight-brewed iced latte, and cold brew are also on the menu. And there’s a chance, if you’re a regular at Skittle Lane’s other cafes, you’ll see a familiar face behind the counter.

‘All our staff move around all our stores. You know that the coffee you’re going to drink will taste exactly the same, no matter which store you go to,’ says Foster. ‘We put a lot of effort into sourcing the right coffee.’ 

Food leans towards grab-and-go  pastries, cakes, cookies and snacks at the Circular Quay cafe. 

The shop is a tiny triangle of just 15 square metres. It follows in the same minimalist vein as Skittle Lane’s other cafes  and even shared materials with the Manly store, which was undergoing a revamp at the time of the fit-out. 

‘We’ve used a lot of concrete, a lot of stainless steel, beautiful grey masonry blocks, and just kept it really natural and organic,’ says Foster. ‘Skittle Lane’s approach to design is intuitive and practical. Hopefully unique, with details of originality. I want every space to feel a little surprising each time but still have the Skittle Lane stamp on it. It’s a process that we’re learning and elevating as we grow and fine tune both the store designs and our processes. Our store designs must be classy, approachable and clearly show the love and attention that has gone into every detail.’

The Skittle Lane team’s approach to hospitality is “a composition of both deliciousness, friendliness, and thoughtful surroundings,’ a concept Foster explains as

‘Deliciousness refers to more than just coffee. It includes our environments, which draw you in with colours, lighting, textures, and cosy corners. Skittle Lane spaces are warm and inviting and leave you wanting more. To achieve this, our designs must be open and friendly and the layout of both the workflow and customer movement within the space is vital. Every touch point is considered in minute detail, from original concrete colours, curved corners and textured paints, through to the finish of the timbers. Consistency and excellence in coffee is everything we stand for, along with a wonderful and welcoming team of people.’

Everything sold both in the stores and online is used in the cafes. The idea is that you can take Skittle Lane home with you, from the coffee to the machinery and kitchen ware. That includes Hasami mugs, Kinto brewers, Ferm Living dishcloths and more. Most importantly the selection of coffee is well stocked on the retail shelves in every store and on skittlelane.com, along with brew guides. 

‘Of course, we start with excellent coffee,’ says Foster. ‘Next, it’s served in classic ACME wares, Hasami Japanese porcelain, Kinto coffee supplies, Milly Dent tumblers or our compostable Skittle Lane branded takeaway cups. We then surround ourselves in gorgeous neutral-toned spaces; black shades, off-white tints, and light-earthen tans. Finally, the customer hospitality experience and interpersonal engagement is our capstone. We are overtly-conscious in elevating customers’  attention to the taste of our coffee.’

Deliciousness, friendliness, and thoughtful surroundings indeed abound in this tiny Circular Quay cafe to create the ultimate hospitality experience in miniature. 

Skittle Lane Circular Quay, 6A Loftus Lane, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Open Mon to Fri 7am-4pm. skittlelane.com.au

Menu Focus
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Snacks
Vibe and Atmosphere
  • Corporate

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6a Loftus Lane, Sydney NSW, Australia

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