Australia is an enormous nation of immigrants with styles and mores that vary city by city. Over the last 18 months we've significantly increased our coverage of Australian coffee here on Sprudge, but in doing so have perhaps been guilty in focusing the majority of our coverage on Melbourne. For shame.
But look! Here's a guide to some of the most exciting coffee bars popping off right now in Brisbane, Australia's third most populous city and home to a thriving cafe culture. The guide has been assembled by Eileen P. Kenny, Melbournian by trade but Brisbanite at birth. What follows is a snapshot of six cafes she visited on a whirlwind weekend in Queensland. As always with Sprudge guides, this one is by no means authoritative, just a starting point for your adventures, and if your favorite Brisbane cafe has been overlooked feel free to give us a shout in the comments.
Cup Coffee Roastworks
Cup Coffee Roastworks is a lovely, open, industrial warehouse space, equal parts roastery/training centre and café. The shop has a clean aesthetic fit-out done by the owner, Josh Russell. Cup's first location was in West End at the original Cup Coffee, which has since been sold (and renamed Taza, Italian for “cup”), with Mr. Russell refocusing his efforts on this location and a merger with Coffee Supreme.
Coffees at Cup are sourced from the likes of Melbourne Coffee Merchants and Silo, roasted in-house, and made available in the cafe as espresso and Kalita filter. Simple snacks like brownies and the like made in the kitchen at Merriweather are available, as well as a dedicated toast station (with one of the sweetest looking toasters around).
The phrase ‘hole in the wall’ is used frequently for neat little cafes, but nowhere does it apply more accurately than that of Bunker in Milton. Built into what was once a World War II bunker, this café sources their house blend from Five Senses alongside an array of guest roasters for filter and singles.
This place is all about setting, but they're backing that up with solid espresso and a La Marzocco GB/5 and Mazzer grinder combo. Bunker also serve some of the most delicious naturally flavoured hot and iced chocolates, in varying degrees of chocolate darkness (like my personal favourite, dark chocolate with orange flavour).
The Single Guys
Out in the southwestern suburb of Kenmore, this delightful little space is serving up simple but satisfying breakfasts and tasty coffee, roasted in-house and served as filter (on a Technivorm Moccamaster) or espresso (on a La Marzocco Linea). As far as Brisbane has come in the last few years, it’s still hard to find a decent filter coffee alongside a fresh, tasty breakfast out in the suburbs, and this spot is a lovely example of what can be achieved.
Strauss is a lovely little spot down a laneway off busy Elizabeth Street in Brisbane’s CBD. During the weekdays here, they serve their Strauss house blend as espresso (roasted courtesy of Cup), as well as an array of fresh & simple breakfast and lunch treats. Then, after 3pm on Wednesdays through Fridays, the menu changes to cheese and charcuterie alongside a unique wine & cocktail offering, served until 10pm.
John Mills Himself
Further up Elizabeth Street in the CBD, there’s another neat café/wine bar called John Mills Himself (named after the heritage listed building that it is housed at the bottom of). Here they serve delicious and thoughtful coffee offerings from Marvell Street Coffee Roasters out in Byron Bay alongside local favorites Cup Coffee and chocolates sourced from the aforementioned Bunker. A locally sourced wine & beer menu comes on in the evenings.
Located in South Brisbane, smack bang between the flourishing neighbourhood of West End and the popular tourist spot of Southbank, Merriweather is a delightful al fresco breakfast & lunch spot, serving Cup roasted coffee and an exemplary breakfast food menu. The approach is a little different to the big breakfasts that abound in many of Brisbane’s cafes, as Merriweather builds inventive & seasonally conscious menus from produce supplied by Food Connect, who source directly from small holding and experienced organic farmers.
Gramercy Espresso & Eats—Pretty little laneway cafe in the CBD, popular for food, coffee, and juice.
Fort Specialty Coffee—Adventurous food & coffee out in the North Lakes area.
LTD Espresso—“Home to Brisbane's worst soy decaf latte” and some talented baristas.
Eileen P. Kenny is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Melbourne. Read more Eileen P. Kenny on Sprudge.