Essence Cafe / by Connor Pearce - Photography Toni Veziris


Tucked away on the fashion side of Stockland Balgowlah is a little bit of Paris, that has made it all the way to Sydney’s northern beaches. With Korean flair thrown in for good measure, Essence Café is an intercontinental expression of hospitality.

Manager Sun Lee covers all things coffee at this kiosk café after training in Korea. After teachings others in the art of pulling the perfect shot, Lee moved over to Australia in search of a better brew.

“in Korea, Australian coffee is really famous. At the time I heard if you go to Australia you should have a coffee everywhere, so when I came here I tried to find that.”

Overcoming initial barriers, Lee found a position at Essence Café and has now for two years run the café. Lee serves up classic brunch dishes as well as healthy lunch options, including wraps and melts on Turkish bread. Pride of place has to go to the Basque sandwich, a combination of shredded chicken and smoky chorizo with tomato, chilli and parsley.

Of course, any French-inspired café would not be complete without some sweeter choices, and Essence provides an array of baked goods that are particularly tempting for locals taking a break from shopping.

This range of options and Lee’s welcoming personality has led to Essence Cafe being more than just your regular shopping centre café, as regulars find it the perfect spot to meet with family.

“Our regular customers, they always introduce their family,” said Lee.

Whether for morning tea or an afternoon snack, Essence Café is about enjoying what life has to offer.