From a tiny coffee operation underneath an old Queenslander to a Star Wars themed canteen, it’s been a great year for Brisbane’s cafe scene. Here are some of the best.
One of the first coffee joints of its kind to hit Toowong, Josie North is hidden at the back of Clements Arcade alongside a hairdresser and a ramen joint. Owner Matt Roggenkamp (formerly of The Single Guys) always offers a variety of roasts, depending on which regions are coming into season. The pared-back all-day breakfast menu consists of classics such as fried eggs with bacon, as well an American cheese toastie.
Housed inside one of Adelaide Street’s oldest buildings, it’s almost impossible not to walk into Botero if you're passing by. Owners Danny and Jill Young, along with the husband-and-wife team of manager Bonnie Duyker and head barista Quentin Le Naour, started out as roasters in the small town of Maclean in northern New South Wales. As you’d expect, the coffee is great, with a choice of five of the cafe’s own blends and a rotating single origin. From the food menu, try the brioche French toast for breakfast or the popular pulled-pork burger with kimchi for lunch.
Death Star Canteen
It took a while to arrive, but when Death Star Canteen finally opened in early June, it was everything Star Wars and Eddie Izzard fans could’ve hoped for, but also subtle in its references and perhaps surprisingly stylish. Occupying a narrow space at the commercial end of Queen Street, coffee comes from The Coffee Roaster in West End and the food menu is highlighted by a selection of house-made, thick-cut Italian-style sandwiches. Yes, there’s penne all'arrabbiata. No, you don’t need a tray.
Earlier this year, owner Jodie Macaulay moved Taste from New Farm to Red Hill aiming to re-cast her expansive cafe and homewares store as the perfect local. At the new premises on Windsor Road, you’ll find artisan products such as charcuterie, cheese and baked goods sourced from local producers, along with Toby’s Estate coffee. From the menu, make sure you try the store’s specialty: the Red Hill version of a tarte flambée – shortcrust pastry with leek and double-smoked speck.
Pablo & Rusty
Every aspect of this well-regarded Sydney import revolves around just one thing: coffee that’s as close to perfect as possible. This precision even involves weighing out the beans to the gram and heating espresso to the exact temperature for that particular blend or single origin. It’s probably due to owner Saxon Wright’s background in chemistry, as well as his passion for researching better ways to perfect coffee. Pastries, cakes, and vegan and gluten-free slices are delivered fresh from West End’s Peregrine Pastries, in case you’re hungry.
When Michael and Amy Bates sold local favourite, Pablo, all eyes were on what they would do next. No surprise they opened another fantastic cafe, this time located in Woolloongabba’s new Trafalgar Lane precinct. Priory peddles a house blend provided by Bear Bones Espresso while a cabinet displays a selection of house-baked goods such as the Caribbean banana bread, made with lime, rum and coconut. The kitchen (under the charge of Michael) churns out breakfast and lunch choices ranging from bubble and squeak bhajis to grilled Szechuan calamari.
After pouring his heart and soul into Toowong institution 85 Miskin St (formerly Brents the Dining Experience) for over a decade, Brent Farrell along with partner Kylie Hawkins, opened their second venue earlier this year. The wholesome breakfast menu comprises dishes such as preserved and grilled three-cheese-on-toast, while the hearty lunch menu features slow-cooked lamb shoulder and a Wagyu truffle cheeseburger. Coffee is from Toby’s Estate.
Perched high on O’Connell Terrace, Project 41 has made a name for itself this year by offering some of the best coffee in town. A few different blends are on offer but you can’t go wrong with the house pour that comes courtesy of Flying West, a small-batch coffee roaster based near Noosa. The all-day menu offers something for everyone with a selection of salads, jaffles, soups, subs and sangas. Make sure you try the Reuben jaffle or the 14-hour barbeque beef-brisket sub.
What was once The Hyde Out is now Seven South – a moody dinner spot that did breakfasts becoming a bright breakfast spot that does dinners. The kitchen is run by Sam Potter (ex E’cco Bistro) whose menu is all about applying clever twists to the classics: poached eggs with roast pork belly and kimchi pancakes is a good breakfast example. The cafe’s snappy service has seen it become a neighbourhood hub in Yeronga.
Drake Street Coffee
Occupying a small space underneath an old Queenslander, Drake Street Coffee is one of a kind – a communal affair with a few pallet tables and milk crates scattered around the yard. West End locals wander in from the street to grab their coffee, brewed using Black Ink, a small roaster based in Coopers Plains. Sweets are provided by local bakeries, and bags of coffee are available to take home.
Brazilian ex-pat Bruno Silva Franca always wanted his own cafe. Toiling away in recent years behind the espresso machines of Albion stalwarts Stalled and Artie & Mai, he dreamed of a place with a strong focus on coffee backed by an approachable menu. The result is Bruno’s BNE, which hit Tarragindi with a bang earlier this year. Silva Franca runs a Padre seasonal blend as his house pour but also offers Single O and Dukes. The all-day menu lists some giddy reinventions of the classics: kimchi fried rice, and poached eggs with house-baked cornbread and apple hollandaise, for example.
Same Same But Different
As the name implies, venue number two for Kym and Jade Machin is a subtle switch-up from Bare Bones Society, their enormously popular Jindalee cafe. The all-day menu includes options such as the Pablo diablo with haloumi, sour cream and chive hash cake, pulled slow-roasted pork and spiced fried eggs. The short lunch menu sticks to salads and burgers, including a roasted Wagyu sirloin salad, and a southern fried-chicken burger. Coffee and tea is supplied by Toby’s Estate. Dinner service is set to start in the new year.
Owner Marilyn Lukies spent plenty of time overseas so it’s no surprise to see her menu dotted with influences from all around the world. At this suburban cafe, you can expect dishes such as Spanish chistorra sausage with roasted potatoes, spinach, romesco sauce, aioli and broken egg; and spicy black beans with avocado, crème fraiche and blue-corn tortilla. Make sure you keep an eye on the specials board – they change daily. Enjoy the food with a perfectly brewed Bear Bones coffee, or tea supplied by Mayde Tea in Byron Bay.
It’s all about coffee and community at Miss Audrey Coffee, located on a quiet Bardon street at the foot of Mount Coot-tha. Come here for Padre coffee and baked goodies (muffins, friands and brownies) from Outlook, a catering business located at the back of the premises.
Owned by Keelan Bijker, drummer for Brisbane band The Jungle Giants, Two Donkeys offers all-day breakfast and lunch from 11am. Coffee comes from Blackboard, a well-regarded Gold Coast roaster.
Nessun Dorma CBD
Replacing the much-loved Brother Espresso on Margaret Street in the city, Nessun Dorma uses Twin La Marzocco GB5 coffee machines to pump out the Eduardo house blend, a bunch of single origins and an organic blend called Au Naturel.