Introducing Bowen Hills’ first serious coffee shop.
Not that there aren’t plenty of fine grab-and-go cafes dotted around the semi-industrial inner north, but Project 41, sitting high on O’Connell Terrace, packs a clutch of killer apps: an immaculate Victoria Arduino Black Eagle coffee machine and a trio of accompanying grinders chewing through three very different varieties of beans.
There’s a reliably potent Blackstar blend, a sweeter Costa Rican import courtesy of The Odyssey Project, and a rotating invitational – all sold at different price points. That’s how serious Project 41 is about its coffee.
That comes from co-owner Kieran Westlake. His impressive credentials (he’s the treasurer of the Australian Specialty Coffee Association) match his ambition: introducing refined, internationally sourced varieties of arabica to Brisbane’s thriving coffee market. But he reckons that’s what is needed to separate Project 41 from the competition. “We can’t rely on just foot traffic,” he says. “There are three good cafes near us.”
Equal partner Stefan Blee is just as serious about his food. Blee cut his teeth as a chef at Milsons in Sydney before making a local name for himself in restaurants such as Mariosarti, Jellyfish and London Fields. His menu packs a subtle sophistication.
Breakfast is coconut, goji and almond granola sitting next to sous-vide thick-cut bacon subs. Lunch features an imaginative selection of salads, jaffles and slow-cooked meats: try a smoked hock monsieur, or a shredded raw salad with beetroot, wombok, dates and caraway.
“My dream used to be restaurants but now it’s cafes like this,” Blee says. “The holes in the wall are where you can be really successful, and that’s attracting good chefs who are making great food for a reasonable price.”
The space itself is bright and airy. Westlake and Blee opted for rare pine, white tiles and caesar stone, with a neat selection of succulents scattered about the place. The prime position is at the open bay windows looking onto O’Connell Terrace and the exhibition grounds beyond.
The only embellishment is a vivid spray painted portrait that watches over the morning commuters and caffeine jackers – they come curious and leave converted.