Want exceptional coffee in Brisbane? The CBD is your best bet. Coffee Anthology, John Mills Himself, Strauss, Ricochet and Edward Specialty Coffee all top the lists of local bean fiends – the smaller tenancies available in the city suit operators who want to do just one thing, and do it well.

Not that the market is anywhere near saturated. Brisbane’s sprawl starts with its rambling CBD, and away from the spines of Edward and Elizabeth streets things can get very middling very quickly.

Only. addresses one of these black spots along Queen Street. Quite literally, in one sense: Scandinavian minimalism might be in right now, but Fortitude Valley-based design firm The Retail Designers has created a space that’s startlingly white and bright. Like Acoffee in Melbourne, it’s perhaps more akin to an Apple store than a cafe.

“There’s a lot of dark and grey places in this part of the CBD,” says Arthur Graczyk, who co-owns Only. with Paul Crossland. “I wanted people to feel awake when they come in. Everything pops [against this background]. You can see the beautiful colours on the salads.”

The CBD location also came about as a result of Only.'s core concept. “We wanted seriously good value and to keep our price point low,” Crossland says. “Where are there a lot of people? In the city. That drew us away from the suburbs.”

The narrow tenancy is cleverly laid out to pump through the numbers. One long, unbroken bar with coffee at one end and salads at the other, it encourages an easy, circular flow for grab-and-go customers. There’s just a single simple bench along one wall for those keen to hang around. “It’s about getting in and leaving,” Crossland says. “It’s all one movement.”

After opening in late September, Crossland and Graczyk say they immediately noticed plenty of return customers. They’re coming for Sydney’s Five Senses coffee served espresso or as a batch brew, and a rotating selection of salads matched with the customer’s choice of protein. Typical options include thinly sliced fennel with chilli, lemon, quinoa and roasted tomatoes. And smoked-paprika pumpkin, black bean and spinach. Matched protein might be chicken, felafel or eggs. The rest of the cabinet is populated by freshly baked pastries, croissants, canelés and cakes.

“Our guiding light is nourishing people,” Crossland says. “We want them to feel good. Food is important. Coffee is important. Every interaction is important. [It’s about] doing everything to the best of our ability.”

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on September 25 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.

324 Queen Street, Brisbane
No phone

Mon to Fri 6.30am–3pm