When Andrew and Christian Connole’s father decided to restore an old bake-house in Bellata, New South Wales, many deemed it wishful thinking. With not one ounce of baking experience between the father and his sons, they were embarking on a difficult journey.
Fast forward a number of years and you have Sonoma Baking Company, an artisan bakery with six Sydney locations – renowned amongst food-lovers and influencers for its authentic sourdough and pastries. In 2014, Sonoma introduced a roaster to this mix.
Andrew, the founder, learnt his craft in the United States where he stayed with Alan Scott, an Australian who pioneered wood-fired oven building for artisan bakeries and Chad Robertson, producer of what Andrew considered to be the best sourdough he’d ever tasted.
The first loaf of what would be known as Sonoma bread was baked in 1998 and after a move to Sydney, the first wholesale loaf of sourdough bread was sold in 2001. From there, they moved to their current headquarters in Alexandria, where Andrew embarked on working with his second love, coffee. Together with Gavin Folden, Founder of Single Origin Roasters, Andrew worked to perfect a personal blend to be used in Sonoma cafes, moving the roasting process in-house in 2014 with Gavin at the helm. The result is three boutique blends, Spirit, Mind and Body, roasted in small batches and available to order or take home.
Sonoma’s Spirit Blend is the cafe’s house blend, a medium-full roast with flavours of dark cocoa, caramelised raisin and plum. It’s ideal for non-milk based brew methods, and is made from a combination of specialty grade beans from the top 83+ percentile. They don’t discriminate on region, instead choosing the best beans from each plantation in places such as Mexico, Guatemala, South America and Papua New Guinea.
The Mind Blend is a lighter roast, ideal for all brew methods. It’s 100% organic, with honeycomb, nectarine and chocolate flavours. The Body Blend, a darker roast, is ideal for milk-based brew methods with a flavour profile of roasted walnut, toffee apple and apricot. When the mercury rises, cold brew is also on offer.
Coffee aside, Sonoma hasn’t forgotten its bakery roots. Bread, including its famous sourdough and other baked goods, are available for sale. The breakfast menu artfully incorporates the products, including banana bread with ricotta and almond, fruit spelt toast with Sonoma jam, and baked eggs with feta and chickpea ragout. Tartines and sandwiches are also on offer for those on the go.
With cafes in Woollahra, Alexandria, Paddington, Glebe, Waterloo and Bondi, Sonoma is at your fingertips no matter where you live. Go for the breakfast, stay for the coffee and leave with more than just a full stomach, taking the artisan beans and bread home with you.