The 10 Best Cafés and Coffeehouses In Brisbane, Australia

Alex MacKay

Brisbane is fast becoming a major player on the Australian coffee scene, with a whole raft of brew bars and hand-roasted blends springing up in and around the city. From converted WWII bomb shelters to minuscule nooks in old bank buildings, we explore the city’s cafes and coffeehouses to determine which is the quirkiest, the most comfortable, and of course, whose house blend is the most satisfying.

1. Workshop Co. Espresso Bar

Bar, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food

Latte art
Image courtesy of Bunker
Down by the beach in northerly Redcliffe and tucked away off Redcliffe Parade you’ll find Workshop Co. Their popularity is in no small part derived from the reputation of their home-roasted coffee, supplemented by an unbeatable food menu. Local patrons swear by the pork belly taco and the corn fritter with salsa. Leave your credit card at home though; Workshop Co. is cash-only.

2. Dandelion and Driftwood

Dandelion and Driftwood

The credentials of the team behind this Hendra hangout speak volumes. Between husband and wife-owners, Peter and Penny Wolff, are 30 years of roasting experience; Penny herself has even judged at the Australian International Coffee Awards. That expertise filters down into the two signature blends, the eponymous Dandelion and Driftwood. Other single origin options are frequently on rotation and cupping notes are provided with every single espresso. For those feeling a little more fancy, there is a high tea option if the idea of a flat white is beneath you.
Address: Shop 1/45 Gerler Rd, Hendra QLD, Australia, +61 7 3868 4559

Dandelion counter | Image courtesy of Dandelion and DriftwoodDandelion counter | Image courtesy of Dandelion and Driftwood

3. Ltd Espresso

Ltd Espresso

Ltd Espresso is unlimited in its aspirations to serve up the city’s best java coffee. The coffeehouse has won a legion of fans on account of its sandwich board outside the main entrance dishing out daily jokes, puns, quotes and pearls of wisdom. The real draw is undoubtedly the smooth Cleanskin coffee blend and cold press bottles, so saunter over to this monochrome marvel at your earliest convenience.
Address: 362 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley QLD, Australia

Brisbane | © Aristocrats-hat/FlickrBrisbane | © Aristocrats-hat/Flickr

4. Death Before Decaf

Cafe, Nightclub, Australian, Coffee, Tea , Vegetarian

Flat white
Image courtesy of Bunker
It might be easy to mistake the hardcore punk design scheme in the window display in this cafe in New Farm for a tattoo parlour, but what is truly metal about this establishment is that it’s the only caffeine provider on this list open around the clock, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Whether you’re a student seeking a dissertation drip-line, a nightclub bartender, a beleaguered new parent or just a night-owl, Death Before Decaf will fix you up a Bellissimo espresso to take-away or to fall asleep with on the milk crates out front.

5. Bunker

Cafe, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, Vegetarian

Image courtesy of Bunker
Still riding the justified hype is Bunker, a literal ‘hole-in-the-wall’ cafe converted from a real WWII bomb shelter and covered in vines. One of the first coffeehouses to jump on the ‘unlikely spaces’ trend amongst Brisbane restaurants and cafes, Bunker has endured thanks to its loyal patronage from weekday commuters (the cafe itself is a few hundred metres from Milton Train Station). As for the coffee itself, Bunker proclaims their blend as ‘the best espresso this side of geekdom’, and it is aptly complemented by a rustic, home-style food menu of salads and sandwiches and a whole range of iced and filter coffees and hot chocolate.

6. Frisky Goat Espresso

Frisky Goat Espresso

Quirk meets heritage in this unusually-located café. Situated in the entry vestibule of the old National Australia Bank building, Brisbane’s first high-rise, on the corner of the Queen St Mall, this elegant nook serves up its own ‘Frisky Goat’ house blend of mixed Colombian, Zambian, Sumatran and Ethiopian beans.
Address: 171 George St, Brisbane QLD, Australia, +61 7 3210 2667

LA Mazocca GB5 | Image courtesy of Frisky Goat EspressoLA Mazocca GB5 | Image courtesy of Frisky Goat Espresso

7. Glen's Espresso

Cafe, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, Vegetarian

Glens Espresso
© David Jackmanson/Flickr
A CBD institution, almost entirely down to the charm and wit of owner Glen (forever uniformed in his quirky cap) this coffee cart lives permanently at the base of an Ann St office tower, earning an army of white collar fans for its fair trade blends and honesty-box payment system. Less of a cafe, more of a community structured around the infectious personality of Glen, this is also the only coffee spot in Brisbane with its own vintage comic collection, which customers are welcome to peruse.

8. Blackstar Roastery Works

Cafe, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, Vegetarian

Mocha lattes
Image courtesy of Bunker
Blackstar’s origins lie in the young owners returning from an excursion to New Zealand and trying to replicate, from flavour memory alone, the java they’d left behind overseas. This quest for perfection and finely crafted, personally roasted coffee led to a regular gig at the Davies Park Markets, pushing their signature cold-pressed coffee. The success of this venture has now resulted in the veritable coronation of Blackstar as the monarchs of the Brisbane coffee scene, and the boys now have their own empire to prove it. The locations of the franchise now extend to Contessa in the City, the Queen Street Markets, and the West End cafe where they still roast their own blends.

9. Lost Boys

Cafe, Australian

Lost Boys
Image courtesy of Lost Boys
Take the second star to the right and fly straight on until morning. Okay, maybe those aren’t the precise directions to this Peter Pan-inspired cafe in Fortitude Valley, but those seeking a caffeine mix should still prepare themselves for a dose of magic. The menus in this Ann Street cafe are entirely organic, vegetarian and hidden in vintage children’s books. Lost Boys is carbon-neutral, so take pride in your cup of Montville Coffee espresso being a green cup as well.

10. Reverend's Fine Coffee

Cafe, Australian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, Coffee, Tea

Lo, the Word was good, and that Word was… Coffee. A man of the cloth has swapped his divine calling for inspiring divine reactions in Fortitude Valley commuters. Certainly, the cappuccinos topped with real grated dark chocolate and the house blend are sure to cause glee, but the rustic-style cafe menu should not be discounted in its ability to satisfy empty stomachs.

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