Brisbane Cafe Review, The Rogue Rennard, Paddington

Paddington is a suburb made for good coffee – but pickings have, in my opinion, been slimmer per capita of trendy person, than they should be – sure, there’s Hamptons – who do a cracking breakfast and serve up a good cup of St Ali. And there are other places known for food. But if I was going to tell someone to head to an area of Brisbane for a guaranteed good cuppa – it wouldn’t be Paddington.

But. The trendy person:specialty coffee outlet ratio has been boosted in recent weeks with the arrival of the Rogue Rennard – French for red fox.

The Rogue Rennard is a Cup Specialty Coffee account (the second with a Francophile theme – see The Little Prince).

The Rogue Rennard’s website explains the name:

“Remmie “The Rogue” Rennard was a famous and talented explorer during the late 1800s. Credited by newspapers of the time with having discovered coffee, the Americas and also pioneering modern-day brewing techniques.

He was of course discredited of these claims not long after it was found that he had penned the stories himself after a 12-day cognac and opium binge – and not to mention that his discovery of the ‘new world’ would have been a few hundred years too late.”

They’re serving up the delicious Five Star Day blend – which is one of my favourites. And they’re serving it up with a bit of style and aplomb, in a little French themed space decked out with a bit of style and aplomb. If there were two words I’d use to describe my Rogue Rennard experience, replete with a couple of friends, and some good times, and some food (they’ve just got their food licence) – they’d be “style” and “aplomb.”

The service was fast and friendly. The coffee was good, with creamy milk served at the perfect temperature.

The clientele were stylish, they were greeted – often by name. This is a nice little place, in a nice little suburb, serving up nice little selection of food, at nice little prices.

They live up to their offer, in their own words…

You can follow the Rogue Renard on Facebook.
(map will be added when my Google Maps plugin gets fixed – until then – find them at 106 Latrobe Tce, Paddington)

Brisbane Cafe Review: Reverends Fine Coffee, Fortitude Valley

This morning’s coffee outing was a coin toss. I was in the Valley for a 10am meeting. We’d paid for 20 minutes of parking (we made the mistake of entering a parking station before seeing how much it cost. Ouch). And I was armed with a “to do list” of two – Reverends Fine Coffee, and Ltd Espresso – a new Cleanskin account two doors down.

Reverends (it feels like there should be an apostrophe there, but there’s not) won out. The stark, clean lines of Ltd will have to wait for my next inner-city jaunt.

Reverend is pouring shots from one of the most beautiful machines known to man – the Spirit – I didn’t get a photo of it, because I’m all about the undercover review – but it produces some pretty stellar results in the right hands. And clearly the guy making the coffees this morning had such a set of hands. They roast their own gear, and offer up a blend, and rotating single origins – today, an Ethiopian Sidamo.

My flat white on the Sidamo was creamy and fruity.

My wife had the blend, and it was so good our daughter wanted to get her hands on it right away…

My great disappointment was that the impending start of my meeting, and the exponentially rising cost of our parking, meant I couldn’t linger.

I love the ideas that cafes are a “third place” – neither your home, nor your office, but somewhere to linger and mix with people, somewhere to spend time. There are a few specialty cafes in Brisbane that give off that vibe – some of my favourites are Uncle Joe’s, Veneziano, Cup (and the new Cup which opens tomorrow sounds even more like it’ll tick that box), and Dandelion and Driftwood – though it feels more like a bustling spot that’s geared towards experiencing decadent morsels, especially for women. Most cafes that make great coffee in Brisbane are, as a rule, dedicated to producing consistently good coffee, rather than keeping people comfortable all day (though none of these places are inhospitable). I love the vibe that a good fit out, and friendly staff, can create, but I’m hard pushed to pick a cafe I’d want to sit in all day to study or read a book. Reverend’s is a comfy couch a way from being that sort of place. I love the grungy fitout, the “distressed brick” look, the fairly open space with relatively sparse seating… It was great.

Their attention to detail on some of the little things – like the pew out the front, and the branded serviettes, made it a bit of a standout.

The raspberry muffin I had was delicious too. So it was a thumbs up all round from me.
Reverend’s has a Facebook page.

Brisbane Cafe Review: The Little Prince, Woollongabba

We were looking for somewhere new yesterday, and decided to check out the Little Prince, which is a nice little coffee bar tucked into the Princess Theatre in Woolloongabba. They’re serving up Cup Coffee’s sensational Five Star Day blend, pouring shots from a La Marzocco (I was a little disappointed that the Mistral I’d seen on Beanhunter wasn’t in play yesterday), and serving them up with some pretty nice latte art.

The double-walled (not Bodum) glasses for the piccolos were also pretty nice.

Sadly, we were also eating breakfast – and my taste bud objectivity when it came to the coffee was a little clouded by the honey, yoghurt, and tasty muesli that I was eating at the same time that I was drinking my coffee. But it was a nice mix.

The staff were incredibly friendly (it helps that we’ve got a pretty cute baby girl who wins just about anybody over). It’s very family friendly – with a basket of toys. Like this one. To play with.

I’d say they’ve succeeded in creating a little place with atmosphere, good coffee, and a light selection of meals, that I’d be happy to sit in for a while.

It’s also especially handy to the Mater Hospital. Parking is a bit of a pain – don’t park in the free shopping centre car park next door – despite the shared name, the two Princess facilities have nothing to do with each other, and we came back to the car to get a stern talking to that involved the words “towing” and “lucky”…

Brisbane Cafe Review: Cleanskin Coffee Co, Brendale

I feel like I should kick this review off with a bit of a disclosure statement. I’m a big fan of Cleanskin Coffee Co – for their Saint Blend and other blends they roast for some of my favourite cafes, such a fan that Cleanskin is supplying our church, and the coffee carts that we’re putting together, with delicious beans. So I’m not unbiased – and I want these guys to do well… I’m also not unbiased about all the cafes and roasteries I love in Brisbane (and elsewhere) – I want people who take coffee seriously and make it delicious to do well. That’s why I have this site. It’s why I’m not just discerning with how I write my reviews, but about who I review.

Anyway. Disclaimer over.

Like I say – I’ve loved Cleanskin’s style since my first visit to the Corner Store Cafe, one of my first reviews. Until the Igloo closed their blends and origins kick started my day.

A visit to the mother ship, Cleanskin HQ, has been on the cards for a long time, but it’s in Brendale, on the north side, and I’m on the south side, and the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself – until a couple of weeks ago.

Cleanskin’s roastery is in an industrial area, on the main industrial drag, in Brendale. It’s easy enough to find – it’s a big black building that is visible from the road.

I went in with pretty high expectations – and I was excited to try their coffees from their brand spanking new La Marzocco Strada. It was so new that owner Mark was still calibrating it a bit – but you couldn’t tell from the coffees it was pouring. They were, without doubt, sensational. Cleanskin’s signature blends are well balanced, sweet, and a good mix of body and acidity. These coffees were as I expected – only they were prepared by the hands that had overseen the process from cupping to roasting to blending to resting to preparing – every step of the journey to the cup.

I had two flat whites – the first, a single origin, was an Indian Bibi it was pretty spectacular with a lingering, back of mouth sweetness. Lodged somewhere around the tonsils. The second was on one of the house blends – Blend 14 – which was smooth and rich with a great, dairy milk chocolatey sort of finish. My wife had a piccolo on the blend, and ordered a Coldpress to go.

All the coffees were of an exceptional standard.

I like to be a little sneaky when I go to new cafes, I don’t want to be treated any differently because I’m going to write a review – so I took some sneaky photos. This process was made a little more difficult because I hadn’t met Mark in person, but the relationship we’re building between our church (Creek Road Presbyterian) and Cleanskin meant I had to introduce myself with that hat on… The customer service we received might have been a result of that – but the staff were friendly, concerned that we’d enjoyed our coffee, and Mark was up for a chat about the finer points of pressure profiling and the advantage the Strada has over the Synesso range he’s been working with for a long time.

The brew bar is one of the cleanest, most “science lab” presentations I’ve seen. I like it.

Cleanskin is worth checking out – and if you see a cafe serving up their beans it should be reassuring on two fronts – not only are they committed to supplying and roasting excellent coffee, they have a pretty spectacular ethos to go with it – serving up ethical beans, and being generous with their time, expertise, and resources.

Just be aware that there’s no food on site – so don’t come expecting breakfast or lunch – but this will only be an inconvenience if you’re not aware – so forewarned is forearmed.

You can also follow Cleanskin on Facebook, where they let you know about coffee classes, featured origins, and all sorts of goodness.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Uncle Joe’s Coffee House, Coorparoo

We’ve been driving past the old Red Rooster on Cavendish Road for about six months with the knowledge that it was slated to become a pretty special cafe. Brisbane, let me introduce you to the newest addition to our specialty coffee scene. Uncle Joe’s Coffee House. It’s pretty close to where we live so I’m very excited about the prospect of these guys opening on Saturdays (coming soon), and serving food that matches the quality of the coffee (also coming soon).

Adam, who was flying solo today because his business partner had a bit of a breakdown en route to work, is one of the nicest coffee people I’ve met. And coffee people, because caffeine is pumping through their veins, are generally some of the nicest people in the world anyway. He was busy, single handedly manning the beautiful and heavily customised Kees Van Der Western Mirage – it’s got longer than usual pre-infusion and enhanced temperature stability. Adam’s excitement about that was enough to mark him out as a guy with industry experience that is matched by the type of passion that keeps you getting up for an early morning commute from the Gold Coast to your brand new Brisbane cafe… for a 7am start. He weighs his shots and does other hallmark coffee geekery stuff to make sure the coffee is pouring sweetly and without too much cluttering bitterness or cloying roast-produced body. These guys are committed to getting the best shots out of the best beans. And I love that.

Here’s a Mirage in all its glory… just so you can see how special they look.

And here’s Uncle Joe’s Mirage in the wild.

The Supafly Blend isn’t named for the famous Joe Cartoon character – more for Adam’s reaction to tasting it once the decision was made to include the Rwanda Mig Maraba that rounds out the blend. The guys are committed to sourcing sensational beans from around the world, roasting them through their 3rd Crack Coffee Brokerage (and selling them green for keen home roasters like me).

The fitout was nice, full of earthy tones, nothing too cold, and full of bits and pieces of carefully chosen coffee paraphernalia.

The coffees were remarkably good. The blend was well balanced and delicious in milk, the Guatemalan was roasted light, just how I like it, so the characteristic sweetness wasn’t drowned out in a see of body and roastiness. And the coffees – as the sign says – were served at around 65 degrees. Perfect.

They’re also starting up a brew bar in the next few weeks, and Adam whipped us up a delicious Aeropress today on the sensational Guatemalan Santa Felisha that’s their current Single Origin (it was delicious in milk, outstanding as an espresso, and mind blowing as an Aeropress – Adam gave us a timer so we could track the changes in the flavour profile as it cooled, he said the 15 minute mark was the sweet spot – so we waited. And he was right.

The Aeropress coffee goes into the funky pouring kettle.

I’m thrilled to have a cafe producing this sort of coffee sourced from around the world by a world class sensory judge – Joe Hsu from Osir in Taiwan, who the cafe is named after – and blind tasted so us consumers are getting coffee that tastes good, not coffee sold on reputation alone. They’re still waiting on some top quality, high brow, porcelain cups – so they’re serving dine in coffees of all varieties in glassware at the moment – but this will be my local (alongside Grindhouse and Dramanti obviously).

Definitely check this place out. Add it to your coffee crawl itineraries. This was one of the best first time experiences I’ve ever had at a cafe, and I’ve been to lots. They’re only going to get better too as the fitout is finished, and the menu expanded. I seriously can’t think of a negative thing to say, even the music was good. Oh wait. Parking appears difficult. We parked out the back because we didn’t see the “tenant parking only” sign. There you go. But there’s a supermarket with plenty of space across the road, and the Coorparoo market next door, which also has heaps of parking. And people were just rocking up and parking out the front while we were there – so that’s not even really a negative.

They’ll be selling Aeropress kits with Able Disks and these funky kettles soon.

You can hit up Uncle Joe’s Cafe on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Fonzie Abbott Espresso, Hamilton

Micro-roasteries are popping up all over Brisbane, but until Fonzie Abbott opened its doors on Racecourse Road, one of Brisbane’s glamour strips was largely devoid of a decent cup. We spent a couple of years living on Brisbane’s northside, and working in Clayfield, and there was no way we were going to drive past Dandelion and Driftwood at Hendra, or the Coffeeguy at Wooloowin to one of the cafes in Hamilton.

Enter Fonzie Abbott, a roastery that operates as an annex to popular breakfast institution Vagelis.

We stopped by for a coffee and croissant earlier this week. And weren’t disappointed.

The fit out is pretty funky – and I was a big fan of the antique scales.

The white Wega didn’t fill me with confidence – it’s not my favourite type of machine, and the art on my flat white left a little to be desired. But it was tasty. Very sweet. Especially the single origin which I kicked off with, a Nicaragua La Bastilla, which was an absolute cracker. So rich.

The picolo and the flat white on the house blend were sweet and tasty.

The croissant was tasty. The staff were friendly. The beans I took home (well, to my parents), a Guatemalan, were great… It was a nice little stop, and if you’re looking for a coffee when you’re in the neighbourhood – I’d definitely endorse Fonzie Abbott.

You can find Fonzie Abbott on Facebook.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Dramanti Artisan Roasters, Wynnum

Dramanti has a cafe in the busy Brisbane CBD (which I’m yet to get to), but I was particularly excited when a friend on Facebook shared a picture of the machine that has just been installed in the freshly minted roastery in Wynnum. Brisbane’s first La Marzocco Strada. A machine of rare beauty, elegance, and ability.

Now that I’m a south sider a trip to Wynnum isn’t a daunting prospect anymore, but I took a car full of other lads with me just to see what we could see, and taste.

The roastery is situated in the heart of Wynnum’s town centre. Or what looks like a town centre, I’ve never really been to Wynnum before. It’s tucked behind Blockbuster. It’s a great setup. A low-fi fit out, with found wood, and recycled odds and ends used as furniture. We set ourselves up at the table which I think is what you’d call a “distressed” door – an old white door with the paint artistically sanded, stuck on a few 40 gallon drums. It might sound odd, but it works.

The roaster, a shiny Has Garanti, sits in the back of the mini-warehouse, and pumps out the cracking smell of roasting coffee (that’s a little roasting pun right there (beans crack as they roast)).


What really brings the fit out together – if you’ve been watching some renovation show like the Block – is the Strada. I can’t stress enough how beautiful this machine is.

But I can show you some pictures.

The owner, whose name, according to Facebook, is Dragan (who was an incredibly friendly chap, but more on that below), said he’d been waking up looking at photos on Stradas online while he waited for delivery. La Marzocco build these bad boys to order. He’s incredibly proud of his machine. Obviously. And rightly so.

I had ordered two coffees – both flat whites – one on the Brazilian Single Origin, A Fazenda Santa Ines, and the other on the Hit Me Baby (One More Time) House Blend. Which, for a blend named after a Britney Spears song, had a surprising amount of substance.

The tragedy of this visit for me was that thanks to a bout of man flu that I wasn’t quite over, I couldn’t really taste anything past the obvious. Which made me sad. The coffee was clearly tasty, the milk probably wasn’t quite as foamy as I’ve come to expect in a flat white, though was what a traditional flat white should be. If I wanted foam I should’ve ordered a cappuccino.

We got to Dramanti at around 3pm, on the second day of trading. It wasn’t hugely busy, I’d say it was steady. But in between bouts of salivating over the machine, and drinking my coffees, we had some of Dragan’s time and attention. He gave us the run down on the fruitiness of the Ethiopian Guji in the blend, and a bit about the Strada, and then he made us a pourover for our table to share. Which was terrific – both as a gesture, and in terms of flavour.

In short, I’ll be back when my nose isn’t blocked, probably multiple times. Even if it’s just to ogle the curves of that beautiful Strada one more time. My mates rated it, one of them is going back tomorrow, another said they served up one of the best hot chocolates he’d ever had.

Check them out on Facebook.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Pompidou, Balmoral

Pompidou is a quaint French themed cafe in the leafy suburb of Balmoral.

It’s a Di Bella account, and they do an admirable job of producing drinkable coffee from their 2-group Wega. My double shot flat white was strong and rich, Di Bella style. I’m starting to think that Di Bella probably works best as a single shot. It can be quite overpoweringly full bodied if prepared well as a double. My dinepanions said their coffees – a cappuccino, and a piccolo, respectively, were tasty.


The coffees were good. The breakfasts were fantastic.

What follows are pictures of my pork belly with poached egg, spicy relish, haloumi, bread, and baby spinach, with a hash brown on the side, the “pan meal” which is pretty much the ultimate big breakfast, a ratatouille with bacon and eggs, and an Eggs Benedict, with the hollandaise on the side. Each meal was delicious, and well worth the price of admission.

We’ll be back on the strength of the food alone, and the coffee wasn’t too shabby.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Belaroma Coffee Centre, Stones Corner

Belaroma has been a bit of a Sydney coffee institution for some time. One of Australia’s most famous baristas, Scottie Callaghan, is the face of their brand (check out his latte art skills in the video below). So one expects big things when they open up a “Coffee Centre” in one of Brisbane’s trendiest little cafe strips.

It was fun to see the barista using customised dosing tools, while the coffee inspired fitout, replete with laminated coffee sack tables, canvas prints of macro coffee photography, a coffee table made from a coffee machine, and a grinder lamp, and funky red wall brew bar setup also inspired confidence.

Belaroma also offers some light dining options..

The coffee was initially disappointing. The shiny La Marzocco (I couldn’t tell if it was a mistral or a mirage) promised so much.

The milk was a little too separated, and slightly too hot. The roast was a little too dark for my preference. And it was fairly bitter up front with a fruity and spicy acidity on the finish. Once the too foamy blend of milk and crema was gone it was actually a very pleasant coffee. I really loved the spiciness of the aftertaste, which the tasting notes on the blackboard identified as cardamon.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Lady Marmalade, Stones Corner

They replace table numbers with toy animals, which is a nice touch.

Lady Marmalade is a pretty rustic corner store come cafe with a nice little window bench and an eclectic mix of outdoor seating. It’s, I think the word is, “distressed” style. Bricks with beautifully peeled paint. Old school chairs with decoupaged classics.

The menu was pretty good, leaning away from the traditional egg based breakfast options (one meal had baked eggs, other than that… nada), and according to the signs they’re competitive (UPDATE: Their Facebook Page reveals they won the Sandwichship Title).

The food, like the setup, was rustic, wholesome, and pretty tasty. I had the avocado and tomato sourdough toast with a potato and feta hash, haloumi, and maple bacon on the side.

My wife had the roast pumpkin, haloumi, and pesto sourdough toast with some of my bacon, and a potato and feta hash.

As I’ve said before at this particular juncture, this isn’t a breakfast blog – though that would be fun – but rather a coffee blog. And their coffee – pulled on what looked like a Wega (though the back of the machine was obscured), pouring Genovese coffee in a (now seemingly industry standard) double ristretto (or so someone said).

Here are my tasting notes.

The crema wasn’t really mixed in at all so the first mouthful was bitter, almost acrid, with a completely vacuous body, a powdery mouthfeel. After a quick stir the flavour balanced out a little, while it was still bitter it was a pleasant darkest of dark chocolate bitter. My wife’s picolo was much better.

In all, with Grindhouse just down the road – do what we did – eat a fantastic and wholesome breakfast at Lady Marmalade and drink coffee at Grindhouse. That’s the best of both worlds. Right there.

Lady Marmalade is on Facebook, on the web, and open seven days..

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