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.

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