Long-time favourites spreading their wings into new venues, hungry newcomers bringing innovation in filter coffee and healthy menu options … these are the cafes that deserve your attention for delivering tasty food, thoughtful coffee and pitch-perfect interiors to Brisbane this year.

Mylk + Ko
Self-confessed sweet tooth Ines Scholtes opened Mylk + Ko after the huge success of her Instagram account dedicated to her decadent but wholesome sweet creations. The premises on Merthyr Road is unrecognisable from its past life as a Vespa Pizza restaurant. Charcoal, wood and white tones dominate, broken up by a fresh smattering of green.

The menu is either vegan, gluten free or dairy free, and features an elaborate selection of acai bowls as well as smoothies, “mylkshakes”, cold-pressed juices and CocoWhip, all made to order. Allpress coffee and Mayde Teas round out the offering.

Bessa Coffee
A few hundred metres down the road from sibling Bunker, Bessa Coffee is the third cafe for Marcus Allison, who also co-owns John Mills Himself. A sleek wooden kiosk in a leafy pedestrian laneway, Bessa mostly serves the office takeaway-coffee crowd, though sit-in customers have the option of two communal tables or even a game of ping-pong.

The house blend is by Perth’s Five Senses, though it also serves rotating local beans, batch brew, and bottled cold-press coffee. You’ll find pastries and treats from Crust & Co. and Alphabet cafe on the counter, and food trucks out front four days a week.

Greenhaus Coffee
Botanica Real Food's Alison and Brett Hutley have a knack for creating simple venues that combine quality takeaway food with quick, efficient service. Their latest project, Greenhaus, is no exception.

While Botanica focuses on takeaway salads and gluten-free savoury tarts, Greenhaus features coffee from Allpress, complemented by little tasty treats. Think mushroom and mozzarella brioche toasties, Bircher, rotating soups or a roasted tomato and tahini tartine.

Occupying a small space designed by the Hutleys, Greenhaus features lots of white paint, wood, greenery and a bright-pink door (matching the takeaway coffee cups).

Light Coffee
Light Coffee has brought quality, slow-brewed filter coffee to East Brisbane. Owner Eva Shao is committed to making everything – from the bean, to the temperature, to the cup – as close to perfect as possible, and Brisbane’s growing demographic of filter-coffee drinkers are taking note.

The menu keeps it light. Croissants from Danny’s Bread and baked goods from Torta Bella. Non-coffee drinkers can choose from Arakai Estate’s Taiwanese-style teas (a nod to Shao’s heritage) and the usual hot chocolate and soda. The interior is clean and Scandi-styled, with retro twists and op-shop finds.

Lonely Boy
You might recognise Lonely Boy owners Mal Gill and Bec Saul from their previous venues: popular south-side coffee spot Lady Marmalade and South Brisbane venue The Milk Factory. They set up shop in Spring Hill in April to get back to their passion for simple, high-quality food and coffee, and supporting local business (Lonely Boy’s beans are from Open House Coffee Roasters in Yatala).

The concise breakfast menu boasts elaborate options such as cheddar waffles with creamed corn, or a maple-bacon, hash and local haloumi brioche burger. The lunch menu offers “sangas” and salads with a twist. House-baked sweets are available all day long.

Naim
After being offered the brand-new space by Aria Property Group, Adi Shabtay and Guy Frawley opened up a South Brisbane location for their popular Paddinton cafe Naim in May. With help from Melbourne designer Hana Hakim, the duo created a striking jade-tiled fit-out with mirrored ceilings and an ornate white marble and chrome hand basin. Worlds away in look from the homey Queenslander original, the smaller location features the same popular pan-Middle Eastern-inspired breakfasts and lunches. Hearty, warmly spiced salads and baguettes are available on the run, as are some select favourites from the Paddington menu.

Neighbourhood Coffee Albion
Neighbourhood Coffee Albion is the second cafe from husband and wife team Alex and Stephanie Ridgway. They’ve incorporated the roastery for their original Bardon location in an industrial-style space that used to be a Mercedes-Benz workshop. In tribute the house blend is called “The Merc”. There is also bottled Japanese iced coffee, nitro, filter and cold-pressed juice.

The small menu focuses on light meals. Highlights include the ubiquitous avocado on toast made interesting with a choice of three elaborate toppings: black sesame and pomegranate; beetroot and almond paste; or Korean chilli paste.

Street Lab Specialty Coffee
Coffee and sneakers. It’s an unlikely combination but one that’s proven a winner for Emporium’s Street Lab Specialty Coffee.

Though the rotating menu of Brazilian-sourced coffee is the main focus, it’s hard not to be distracted by the often rare and expensive kicks gracing the walls. People drop in every day just to check them out – as well as the collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Street Lab’s concrete floors and mixture of low and high rough-hewn pallet-style tables exude an easy industrial cool. It’s the kind of space that invites both quiet solo breakfasts and cheery morning-after debriefs.

Honourable mentions:

Pourboy South Bank
An inner-city favourite gets a second instalment.

Miss Jones
Venue number two from Little Loco’s Dan and Hannah Bowles.

Milk Box Coffee and Tuckshop
A specialty coffee joint turning back time.