From the arrival of a New South Wales interloper to a clever inner-city collaboration, the first half of 2016 provided rich reward for the city’s coffee and breakfast crowd. Here are some of the best.

Botero
Passing by, it’s almost impossible not to walk into Botero. If the architecture doesn’t get you – a stunning heritage-listed brick building with brass and copper highlights – the smell of coffee will. Five of the cafe’s own blends imported from its northern New South Wales roastery are on offer, as well as a rotating single. Chef Tom Monk serves breakfast and lunch through the week, and dinner and tapas on Thursday and Friday nights. You might try buttermilk waffles with coconut-and-lime butter for breakfast, potato-and-pea fritters for lunch or pulled pork with kimchi for dinner.

Josie North
Operating from the back of Clements Arcade, Josie North owner Matt Roggenkamp’s love of coffee runs just as deep as his love of food. Roasters – currently Seven Seeds, Small Batch and Reuben Hills – are chosen for sourcing the freshest coffee internationally, depending on the time of year. Filter coffee is also on offer, and there’s Mörk hot chocolate. Expect pared-back offerings for breakfast and lunch – jazzed-up porridge, a breakfast burger with a sausage patty and open sandwiches. To satisfy the sweet tooth, there’s Gramercy doughnuts and croissants from Crust & Co.

Death Star Canteen
Months in the making, Glen Morris’ Death Star Canteen was a huge hit when it opened in early June. Inspired by Eddie Izzard’s cult comedy routine of the same name and, of course, the hugely popular Star Wars films it lampoons, the cafe and sandwich bar is dotted with sly references to “Jeff” Vader and his planet-busting battle station. A menu of thick-cut Italian-style sandwiches has been put together under the guidance of former Mondo Organics chef Brenda Fawdon, while both Morris’ preferred The Coffee Roaster organic blend and his honesty box system have been imported from his now-defunct Glen’s Espresso coffee cart. Yes, there’s penne all’arrabbiata. And yes, you’ll need a tray.

Project 41
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 (one each from Blackstar and The Odyssey Project, plus a rotating invitational). Not that you should ignore the food, with co-owner and chef Stefan Blee bringing his fine-dining experience to bear on salads, subs and slow-cooked meat jaffles. The space is bright and airy, fitted with rare pine, white tiles and quartz surfaces.

Seven South
What was once The Hyde Out is now Seven South – a moody dinner spot that did breakfasts transformed into a brightly lit breakfast spot that does dinners. Chef Sam Potter’s menu applies clever twists to the classics: poached eggs for breakfast tend to come with seasonal greens or haloumi, or maybe some charred sweetcorn. Lunch might range from Wagyu burgers through to duck salads, while the three-nights-a-week dinner menu is classic modern Australian. For drinks it’s less is more: a short list of carefully selected Australian wines backed up by a trio of tap beers and numerous bottled options.

Pressed x Nodo
In May, Nodo moved into the Pressed Juices’ store on Elizabeth Street, enlivening the nine-to-five grind at the corporate end of city. The full range of cold-pressed juices is still on offer, but it’s now accompanied by Barefoot Barista coffee to go and Nodo’s signature range of doughnuts: baked rather than fried, and free from gluten, artificial ingredients and, in some cases, dairy. There are also raw doughnuts, dehydrated for nine hours. The fit-out is a harmonious blend of the two operators’ different aesthetics, the Pressed fridge lined with juices at the back of the store while Nodo occupies the front of the space.

Two Donkeys
You’ll find Two Donkeys on the ground floor of the Spring Hill Novotel. Owner Keeland Bijker’s passion for music – he’s drummer for Brisbane band The Jungle Giants – is evident throughout the space, from the curated playlist to the team of musicians involved in the café’s fit-out and operation. Two Donkeys offers all-day breakfast and lunch from 11am. The menu is simple, and includes fresh pastries from Crust & Co, bruschetta (try it topped with caramelised pears, goat’s cheese and walnuts), rösti with eggs and pickled vegetables, and bao bung for lunch. Coffee comes from Blackboard, a well-regarded Gold Coast roaster.

Honourable mentions:

Slack’s Track
Venue number two for Toowong restaurateur Brent Farrell and his prized French cooking is a humble 30-seater on Logan Road serving wholesome breakfasts.

Blockhouse Eat/Drink
A classy champagne and share plate stop at night, Blockhouse also does a morning “toast and oats menu” and takeaway coffee for those en route to Nundah train station.

See also:
The Best Restaurant Openings of 2016 (So Far)