Inner-city pedestrians need to keep a close eye on the skyline nowadays. The shape and the colour of the overhead town scape shifts so quickly it can feel as though you are trespassing upon a rotating, unfinished film set.
One morning an old wall falls down, the next evening a stylish new backdrop is backlit and staring down from a spotlight.
Yet some set pieces insist on staying the same.
Down at street level there remain the residents, the workers and, of course, their collective appetite for inventive food and reliable qualities of caffeine.
Heading eastwards through the city, pedestrians should also keep their eyes out for where to satisfy these appetites - those evergreen locations where, despite a rotating backdrop of change and development, almost everything has stayed the same.
Like a star all-rounder that's been on the roster for years, there isn't much that Ground Floor can't do with skill and panache.
As other players have come and just as quickly departed from the coffee scene, owner Jordan Mizrahi has not only stayed the course but has broadened his flavoursome offerings. From their secret, honey spiced acai blends ($15.90) to their knee-weakening cartocchis (an Italian custard-filled doughnut), Ground Floor has a menu that befits its beatnik chic interior.
Maybe it's the piano and the stained glass windows or the vaulted high ceilings bejewelled with vintage chandeliers. There's just something nonchalant but accomplished about the attitude here. And the same goes for their standout espressos. Acclaimed Perth roasters Five Senses have their Crompton Road blend pouring to near perfection here. It's a sweet, complex, intense but balanced delight.
103 Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle
Good Brother Espresso
Don't ask me what beans made the cut and got to join this famous band. If you don't know them by now, then you will never, ever know them.
No you won't.
What I can tell you is that Good Brother has long ago earnt the right to be aloof and enigmatic. They are too busy to answer questions because they are always, year after year, very good at what they do.
The sign overhead says it all: Coffee, Wine, Food. They are singular quantities in an equation perfected by its sparse, elemental simplicity.
Most of their kin come here only for the first item and depart, empowered by caffeine and vaguely euphoric. It's an alchemical experience. They've just been treated to an espresso blend crafted by a roaster who is rarely seen and then distributed from a warehouse that no-one has been to. It's mysterious. It's cool. It's rock'n'roll high school. It's the Johnny Ramone, good brother of the family.
40 King Street, Newcastle
Culture Club on King
Hit this colourful locale first thing in the morning and bask in a zany glow of warm service and Broasters blend espresso from Glitch.
The locals will tell you that the coffee is always enjoyable here, a dependability that only good beans and serious baristas can bring to your table.
Diagonally opposite this popular spot, on the old David Jones site, is a murky olive apartment block still to be completed and teeming with tradies finishing off the construction work. The Culture Club and its co-owner Lauren Skrzypnik are a bright and friendly contrast to this towering new presence. The tradies themselves certainly appreciate it being here. Before dawn you can find teams of them powering up on takeaway coffees and Big breaky rolls ($16).
2/139 King Street, Newcastle
It's a tribute to the distance that tastes can travel that our old Kentucky Fried Chicken building can now house an eatery so urbane in its outfit and so nourishing in its philosophy. Like Culture Club around the corner, ever present while the neighbourhood develops around them, Momo has established itself as a steadfast inner-city destination.
The locally roasted Unison beans are a perfect compliment to what must be one of the best all-day menus in the CBD. The vegan Indian breakfast ($19) deliciously recreates the traditional thali - a simple arrangement of richly flavoured, vividly coloured condiments. Their mushroom burger (vegan, $18.50) is a soon-to-become-iconic staple for the suburban vegan set. Local king brown mushies, kimchi mayo, slaw and crispy shallots reign upon an Uprising sourdough roll like a Buddha wrapped in butterflies. 227 Hunter Street, Newcastle
One Penny Black
I know you already know. They know you already know. But newcomers to Newcastle still need to be told that this dark and handsome gent is always good company, a familiar old face in a Hunter Street mall that can feel very unfamiliar.
This place waits these days like David in the shadow of an ever-growing Goliath.
The developments across the road are costing around $700 million but a real taste of inner-city Newcastle will set you back less than a fiver at One Penny.
And what a taste it continues to be.
Its location, its roaster and its owner might all have changed sides over recent years but the espresso remains its excellent self.
Try their latest house blend roasted locally by Life Science. A Guatemalan, Honduran, Colombian and Brazilian crack team of nutty, smoky flavour tones that sings with deliciousness.
196 Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle