Brisbane is a city that rewards the curious. Wander down that unassuming alleyway in the CBD or turn down that leafy suburban street and you’ll find plenty of gold – of the liquid variety. Here’s where to find the best coffee in Brisbane to silence the naysayers once and for all. By Morag Kobez and Matt Shea.
John Mills Himself
The first question you need to ask about John Mills Himself is whether you can find it. A speakeasy hidden in an old subterranean CBD printshop, come morning local coffee hero Marcus Allison moves in to salve hangovers via expertly brewed blends and single origins from the likes of Five Senses and Sample. There’s limited seating available but don’t be afraid to take-away for a shopping expedition in nearby Queen Street Mall.
40 Charlotte Street, Brisbane; 0434 064 349
The coffee by which every other cup in Brisbane is measured. Since 2014 Coffee Anthology has been a beacon for weary CBD office types and owner Adam Wang’s dedication to beans has won him a slew of national awards. Wang rotates roasters week-to-week so you could be drinking Disciple’s Ethiopia Guji Xade Burqa on Friday and Sample’s Colombia El Sauce the following Monday. Take it as espresso if you like but a bunch of alternatives are available, including pour-over and cold brew.
126 Margaret Street, Brisbane; (07) 3210 1881
Brisbane’s new queen of the filter, Eva Shao, opened Light Coffee in early 2017, directly appealing to the city’s increasingly sophisticated caffeine scene. Beyond exceptional slow brew, Shao’s obsession is good, consistent beans so she roasts two on-site. The café itself is a pleasant, Scandi-inspired escape from busy Lytton Road outside. And yes, if you must, Shao will pour you an espresso.
Shop 2a / 89 Lytton Road, East Brisbane
Edward Specialty Coffee
Sydney-born Abhi Gupta blew into Brisbane late last year and immediately made a splash with Edward Specialty Coffee in the CBD. He runs four single-origins every day, all supplied by Sydney’s White Horse Coffee. Gupta himself is a charismatic sort and talks about taking specialty coffee mainstream – that is, exceptional black coffee might be his passion but he won’t judge if you want to swirl some syrup through your latte.
Shop 25, 275 Edward Street, Brisbane
At the back of an arcade next to a hairdressers and a ramen joint, Josie North is a go-to for inner-west bean-fiends. Owner Matt Roggenkamp peddles seasonal roasts from Seven Seeds, Small Batch and Wood and Co. The small shop itself is a great place to escape the Brisbane humidity and the regular student crowd means you’ll always have interesting company.
51 Sherwood Road, Toowong
Blink and you’ll miss this cosy, classy little café tucked away at the end of a laneway on Elizabeth Street. Whether it’s the smooth house blend of Guatemala La Soledad and Honduras Liquidambar or one of the single origins, you can be sure it’s always made with love.
189 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane
Coffee shops are a dime a dozen in the CBD but very few are in Botero’s league. They roast an ever-changing selection of beans (in the nearby Northern Rivers region), brew them with the utmost care and serve them in the surrounds of a heritage-listed building. It’s definitely worth battling the suits for a spot here.
258 Adelaide Street, Brisbane
Reverend’s Fine Coffee
Sure, the coffee at this local favourite is a near-holy experience but there’s also the beautiful bare-brick interior, charming young things behind the counter and heavenly custom-made leather and brass sleeves on the cold-drip flasks.
372 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Campos Coffee Wandoo Street
It was one of the first and it’s still one of the best. Tucked away at the end of a driveway behind the James Street Markets, this café has been consistently transforming flavourful, ripe beans from around the world into the perfect cup for nigh on a decade.
11 Wandoo Street, Fortitude Valley
Dandelion & Driftwood
What’s in a name? This cute-as-a-button suburban café, with its friendly, apron-wearing waitstaff and whimsical interior, is named for its two coffee blends. Dandelion has a subtle softness with more delicate notes, while Driftwood is ruggedly earthy, with a rich, dark-chocolate body. We strongly suggest trying a cup of each.
1/45 Gerler Road, Hendra
As the name suggests, the staff here are a delightfully eccentric bunch of coffee-obsessed creatures. In this unassuming little café and roastery in Woolloongabba, they’re all about sourcing beans from smaller estates, with a focus on sustainability and ethical practices.
109 Norman Street, Woolloongabba
It’s like wandering into the pages of a fairytale. The enterprising owners took a neglected, graffiti-covered World War II bomb shelter and transformed it into an enchanted café that threatens to be swallowed whole at any moment by the unruly vines surrounding it. Look for the detailed tasting notes posted on the wall. The dark hot chocolate with peanut butter is almost as good as the coffee.
21 Railway Terrace, Milton
Little sister to West End stalwart Blackstar Coffee Roasters, Contessa comes from a well-brewed family. The espresso and hot- or cold-filter are all great but – perfected over many years and cold-brewed overnight – their cold-pressed coffee is hard to beat. Available in full-cream, soy, low-fat and black.
154 Roma Street, Brisbane
Top image: Botero
SEE ALSO: Brisbane’s Best Breakfasts