"Why is it so hard to have nice food and nice coffee?" That’s what Geoff Grundy asked himself after moving back to Brisbane last year.
“It feels like the only places doing really exceptional coffee tend to open during the week and just a few hours on Saturday,” Grundy says. “And they don’t do food.”
Grundy has spent the past six years in Melbourne working front of house for some of that city’s biggest names in coffee – Dukes, Code Black and Sensory Lab among them. While there, he watched some roasters branch out to open multiple cafes with full food menus.
“They might have three venues that all do full menus and hardly ever close,” he says. “Up here, I was struggling just to find decent coffee on the weekend, timing my day around what was going to close when.”
So, two weeks ago, Grundy opened Penny Coffee Co in a neat shopfront on Annerley Road. Once a Fujifilm development lab, the building had been empty for two decades when Grundy’s landlords bought it last year.
“It was just sitting here, full of termites, with vines growing through the roof,” he says. “But because of council rules you have to rebuild exactly the same to keep the zoning.
“I just wanted something standalone … It’s hard to find in Brisbane. Everything’s in a strip mall or under new apartment buildings. I’m just not into that.”
Grundy worked with Clui Design to create a neat space with caesarstone floors, subway-tiled walls and wooden highlights. The venue opens out on to Annerley Road via big bi-fold windows, a fabulous Shani Finch mural giving the understated treatment a welcome splash of colour.
Coffee is understandably king here, available as espresso, V60 or Aeropress. Grundy runs Parallel’s Shifting Light blend as his first pour, with guests rotating through every couple of weeks. Currently it’s Eva Shao’s Light Coffee from East Brisbane. Next week, Melbourne’s Omar and Marvellous Bird will take over. Tea comes from Storm in a Tea Cup, with cold drinks covered by a juice and a clutch of soft drinks.
Food is refreshingly uncomplicated, The Priory Kitchen alum Brittney Barling flipping dishes such as miso scrambled eggs with salt-baked salmon on rye; confit mushroom and pumpkin with a poached egg and hummus; and chai-spiced bircher muesli.
Penny Coffee Co
109 Annerley Road, Dutton Park
Mon to Fri 6.30am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–2pm