Coffee Anthology has been such a remarkable success in Brisbane’s CBD, you might wonder why owner Adam Wang hasn’t tried to repeat it elsewhere. Many would argue Anthology remains the standard for specialty coffee in the city and, along with other outlets such as John Mills Himself and Edward Specialty Coffee, forms a community of exceptional operators who frequently swap expertise and information.
“Would I ever do Coffee Anthology again?” Wang says. “No. Why would I do something I’ve done before? If I’m not going forward, I’m going backwards.”
Besides, Wang has had a much more ambitious project on his mind: a cafe, roastery and community training centre, all in one, and all in the middle of the CBD. Named The Maillard Project, it’s a place not only to drink but learn about coffee – how to roast it, how to brew it and how to serve it.
“We want to be somewhere for people to learn about making and roasting coffee,” Wang says. “We want to help people build their skill set.
“The customer is in a new era, many have a machine at home, so you need a space for them to learn. People will come in [to Coffee Anthology] asking to do training, and it’s pretty hard for us after a big day. We now have a space independent from the other shop.”
The Maillard Project opened this week on Charlotte Street. Designed by West End’s Clui Design, it’s a slick, lab-like space built from pale timber, stone and glass. In the middle is a low-set island bar with two machines pumping out espresso, as well as batch and pour-over options to help showcase the various roasts Maillard is producing. Up the back is a raised dining area for those wanting to stick around and order something from the classy brunch menu.
The Maillard Project’s real point of difference, though, is its in-house roastery and training hub. Coffee enthusiasts can try their hand at roasting, practice on a third espresso machine or come in for cupping sessions. You don’t need to be a barista to take advantage of the set-up – anyone with an interest and a little know-how can come into The Maillard Project and swap notes with Wang and other experts.
“Because the CBD is a high-density area, you might have four baristas hanging around having a chat,” Wang says. “I really like that culture. Brisbane is a friendly city when it comes to coffee sharing, so why don’t we use that?
“It’s why we wanted to do this in the CBD. There’s a higher density of coffee shops, and a higher density of coffee lovers and baristas.”
Still, if this all sounds a bit intense, The Maillard Project remains first and foremost a terrific coffee spot and classy cafe. It’s pouring four espresso options and three filter options daily, all of them using coffee that’s roasted in-house. The cafe’s Feature One blend sits next to a bunch of single origins roasted with beans sourced from Colombia and Ethiopia. There’s also cold-drip coffee with tea sourced through Australian Tea Masters.
For food, a fully equipped kitchen means an expansion of Coffee Anthology’s (now retired) menu. Dishes include a pork-stock congee served with smoked ham hock, pickled bamboo, mixed herbs and soft-boiled egg, and a potato rosti served with pork-and-fennel sausage, pickled radish and zucchini.
It adds up to a cafe opening that, if not Brisbane’s best this year, is almost certainly its most ambitious. And it’s all in the middle of the CBD.
“The city’s great,” Wang says. “There’s a lot more multiculturalism and a younger clientele who are interested in new things … the city is a very international city, so we’re in a good area to do what we want.”
The Maillard Project
119 Charlotte Street, Brisbane
Mon to Fri 7am–3.30pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–2pm