Brisbane Cafe Review: Cup Specialty Coffee Roastery, Woolloongabba

I love Cup.

If I’m meeting anybody in West End, that’s where I go (even if a megafranchise has tried to coin the idea that you meet somewhere that has horribly overroasted coffee).

But the problem with Cup at West End is that it’s so popular that sometimes seating (and parking nearby) isn’t so readily available.

This is the price you pay for consistently serving up amazing coffee, both the changing (based on season, taste, and goodness), but consistently grand Five Star Day blend, and a range of single origin delights. Produced on some of Brisbane’s nicest coffee kit, or served up as meticulously prepared filter coffee.

It’s easy to see why Cup is popular. They’ve been picking up some pretty nice little cafe accounts too – including Blackboard Specialty Coffee on the Gold Coast, The Little Prince in Woolloongabba, and the Rogue Rennard in Paddington.

The lack of space, and the amount of roasting that must be required to service these classy outlets, has produced something beautiful. A new roastery/cafe in Woolloongabba. As I was driving home from this new warehouse space today I was thinking that with Cup, Grindhouse, and Uncle Joe’s on my route to or from the city there’s a nice little coffee crawl itinerary just waiting for a lazy Saturday morning. I’m feeling a little bit spoilt for choice in my corner of Brisbane’s south side at the moment. My Brisbane top ten is going to be even harder to come up with this year, especially given I haven’t even managed to get to some of my old favourites.

I mentioned the “cafe as fourth place” thing in my review of Reverends the other day, and in my opinion, Cup’s new warehouse has nailed it. It’s big. Open. And is, as far as I know, the only cafe in Brisbane boasting both a Slayer and a Mistral on their benches (I want to say “in the world”). While it’s the new home of Cup’s roasting operations, there’s also a nice Coffee menu on offer (Josh, the owner and genius behind Cup, says there’ll be very limited food in the future). And did I mention there’s space. And seats. And tables. And music. And coffee.

I’m a big fan of Cup’s aesthetic – from font choice, to the black/timber fitout at this place, to the big roasting robot painted on the wall in West End, to the choice of some of the most beautiful and technologically amazing machines available – so I like this place a lot. The machines and the roaster are the visual heroes. The coffee is the real hero (and according to latte art smackdowns, and the recent Queensland Barista Championships – they still boast Brisbane’s best latte artists). Everything else is functional and understated. Like it should be.

It’s still in the very early days. But I like it. Very much. You can buy their beans online too.

(there’ll be a map here one day – but for now, the roastery is tucked into 43 Balaclava St, Wooloongabba).

Barista Basics from Cup Coffee

Cup is one of my favourite cafes. It was one of the first places I reviewed here, and it remains in my top three cafes in Brisbane.

It has been far too long since I’ve last enjoyed the fruits of their Slayer. And I feel like I should go back there even if it’s just to update the photos used in that review… But we can all enjoy the fruits of their labours together – thanks to their freshly published guide to making coffee which they’ve launched into cyberspace. This is top shelf stuff. Apparently its the material used in their barista course, and apparently there’s an advanced guide in the pipeline – at least that’s what the link says.

This is gold. There’s little tips in there like this one about splitting the milk into two jugs before you pour it into your coffee:

Splitting milk for multiple drinks should be done immediately after steaming.
Pouring multiple drinks from one jug will result in the first drink having more foam.
Milk is best served around 60 degrees celsius. You should learn to feel this temperature with experience. Splitting milk into a cold jug will reduce temperature by around 5 degrees. Always preheat jugs before splitting.

Like I said in my review. These guys pay attention to detail. They sweat the small stuff – you can see it in the typography in this guide, and you can taste it in the cup.

Single Origin v Blend

Josh from Cup blogs at baristafail.com. His post about the trend in Brisbane to equate quality with single origins made me think, and has probably pushed me towards ordering the blend on a cafe’s menu first time around before ordering the single origin. Usually (but not always) the blend is coffee number two (if I have one).

What I will say is that cafes that roast single origins in house, or feature them from specialty roasters around Australia, generally excite me in a way that a cafe serving a blend doesn’t. It’s a sign that the owner is interested in expanding their coffee horizons, and those of their patrons.

Gold Coast Cafe Review: Blackboard Specialty Coffee

There are cafes that are hyped up for no apparent reason, and there are cafes that live up to the hype. Blackboard Specialty Coffee is a rare gem – it exceeds even the most hyped up expectations. Part of me didn’t believe some of the stuff being said about these guys on Twitter. I was prepared to be let down. But when a group of us rocked up on Friday afternoon, just before closing time, we were all left more than satisfied.

As it was late in the day, and we’d already been to a couple of cafes already, the four of us ordered piccolo lattes. And they were amazing. From the latte art to the cup. Succulent. Creamy. Delicious. And the best bit, this was a freshly delivered blend from Cup Specialty Coffee, who supply all their beans (well, just about all of them), and the barista behind the shiny Synesso told me he’d only been dialling it in for an hour. It’s possible the sweet and chocolaty blend of Brazilian and Colombian beans was going to get better over time.

My only regret was that we didn’t get there in time to sample the previous blend – a ripper featuring the coffee that Australian Barista Champion Matt Perger took to the World Barista Championships (you can watch his routine, which featured the wonders of this bean pretty heavily, here), a Tanzanian bean that is proving pretty elusive.

Using quality beans is the mark of a quality cafe, and these guys were quality. Well worth a stop if you’re in the Varsity Lakes district. It almost had me enrolling in some sort of degree at Bond University.

The coffees were so good that we pretty much unanimously went for a second round.

These guys are serious about coffee, and they’re seriously good. Worth a trip from Brisbane. The food is meant to be pretty good too.

Coffee Bean Review: Costa Rica De Licho from Cup

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Cup in West End. But when we were perusing their wares during our recent Coffee Crawl I decided to splash out on some single origin beans to review. And I settled on a One Third Kilo bag of Costa Rica De Licho beans. And I’m glad I did. Wow.

These beans were ok at first. In fact, for the first couple of cups I would have called them average. But then, something magical happened. 10 days post roast these beans just went nuts. Or fruits. Apricot I reckon. Sweet, with a lingering apricoty flavour. It transformed. Somehow. The coffee I had at home, in my dining room, on Tuesday this week, was just incredible.

I got a little bit sciency, and towards the end of the bag I was pulling incredibly slow shots, and weighing the result. I do very much love a slow poured shot.

This De Licho bean is something special. It’s “honey processed” – and if you’re like me you have no idea what that means. But I’m now educated and here to help. It appears that by cutting down on water use in processing the coffee it’s more environmentally friendly. The beans are dried with the fruit’s flesh on on raised beds. The flesh becomes sticky, and the sugars concentrate – the guy in this video suggests it’s like a candy-bar of coffee parchment. Here’s some info from coffee traders, Mercanta, who confirm the apricots I tasted were real.

Finca Los Lajones – Honey Coffee Processing from Jarda Tucek on Vimeo.

I loved this coffee so much I bought a few kilos from MinistryGrounds to roast myself.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Cup Coffee, West End

If you’re a coffee geek and you want your coffee to be made by coffee geeks with an absolute commitment to coffee that’s 99% good not 90% good, if you want your coffee made by people who sweat the small stuff, then head to Cup in West End. It’s a coffee geek’s paradise.

Cup serves up coffee from one of the world’s most advanced machines. The Slayer. The first machine to experiment with pressure profiling – which means they can fiddle with the amount of pressure the water is being pumped at while they pull your shot of coffee. Coffee geeks around the world are excited about what the fruits of being able to control such a variable might be. Cup offers living proof. The coffee is excellent. Beyond excellent.

Cup’s roastery/cafe is in a little garagey warehouse tucked off West End’s main street. They’ve got a giant remote controlled robot painted on the wall, and they’re fast earning a reputation in competitions, not just for their latte art – though for trophies for such achievements adorn their walls.

They offer light meals, which I haven’t tried yet, and heavy, almost viscous coffee that’ll take your breath away. I promise. It’s amazing.

Their attention to detail, and their quirky, typographically driven design on take home packs of beans and other paraphernalia, makes them an absolute favourite in my books. And my wife and I are locked in a long debate on whether or not their coffee is better than Dandelion and Driftwood. I say yes. She says no. Perhaps Cup’s coffee is more manly. It certainly packs a punch.

Here’s a little video from their website to give you a taste:

CUP SPECIALITY COFFEE from PSN CREATIVE on Vimeo.

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When I was there last their signature blend included Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and any use of that bean is a winner in my book. Basically, if I walk into a cafe and can spot the word Yirgacheffe anywhere I feel a little bit of calm wash over me.

They change their house blend regularly, based on season, another mark for quality in my books.

You can follow them on Twitter, and their website is one of the best looking coffee sites going round.

Bean here (excuse the pun)? Rate it:

* * * * ½

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