March 15, 2011 Nathan

Brisbane Cafe Review: Pourboy Espresso, Brisbane CBD

It’s a luxury having so many good cafes opening at the same time – last week it was the Corner Store Cafe, this week it’s Pourboy Espresso. On Wharf St. In the Brisbane CBD.

I took a stroll from Southbank to check this place out. And it was worth the walk.

The smell of fresh enthusiasm was in the air. There was a buzz. The barista, Sebastian, was obviously thrilled with how the first day was going and there was a bit of banter between the staff that showed they were really enjoying working together. And it made for a pleasant mood in the breezy glass box that Pourboy calls home. It feels modern and chic.

I mentioned the tattoo on Kane from the Corner Store’s wrist the other day, and I think Sebastian has him beat. You can just make it out in this photo from the Courier Mail’s review

It’s a bit like this exploded Portafilter shirt from the other day. It wins on points in the best barista tatt I’ve seen in Brisbane stakes, because it is unmistakably coffee. A rosetta is all well and good, but it could be easily misinterpreted as a pretty pattern. The portafiller tatt gave me a sense of confidence in the commitment to good coffee Pourboy is showing, and the food is meant to be pretty good too. Sorbet, pastries and quiches are baked on site. I enjoyed a cinnamon scroll with my coffee that was fresh, tasty, and delicious.

Pourboy Espresso is using beans from Mecca. Mecca only use beans that are graded at 90+ (in a specialty coffee hundred point scale – this means they are good. We’re talking top 50 coffees in the world, so Sebastian told me with a bit of enthusiasm – which is also a winner when you’re picking a cafe – talk to the barista about coffee and if their eyes light up you’re probably on a winner).

I had a double shot flat white on the Dark Horse blend. Which, pulled on the Synesso Cyncra, came out thick and creamy.

In an attempt to supply meaningful “tasting notes” – not the industry talk that require a supertongue – I’d describe it as low acid, rich, strong and smooth with a mellow and pleasant aftertaste. The milk was perfectly silky and textured. There was no bitterness in the taste, or the aftertaste. It was superb.

I followed that up with a piccolo on the featured single origin – a Guatemalan, I didn’t get the specific variety – but Mecca sell an Acetenango which sounds about right. This one was a little fruitier, a little more sparkly, with a slightly dulled-down sweet aftertaste. Really good stuff.

The downside – the coffee is expensive. Drinks start at $4 a cup. Perhaps due to transit costs for getting the beans from Mecca – that involves a double handling that roasteries in Brisbane aren’t paying. And their lease is doubtless more expensive than other operations in the specialty coffee marketplace.

If they keep serving up coffees like they were on the day one then their coffee is worth paying the 50c extra for anyway.

You can follow Pourboy on Twitter


Bean here (excuse the pun)? Rate it: [five-star-rating]

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About the Author

Nathan Nathan is a coffee lover, home roaster, amateur barista and coffee tinkerer. He's married, has two kids, one turtle, and for a day job works for Creek Road Presbyterian Church. He previously worked in PR. This blog is his attempt to make coffee tax deductible.

Comments (6)

  1. Marcus

    Sounds good. More and more I think specialty coffee is under priced.

    You shouldn’t pay the same $3.5 for a split shot, made on cheap machinery using cheap beans with under trained staff in an under staffed shop.

    Especially when specialty shops have forked out a bomb for their machinery, spent the time and money on their staff and pay a premium for all the ingredients going in the cup.

    Hopefully the punter forking out the dough can understand that and taste the difference.

    After all, you don’t go to a fine dining restaurant serving up seasonal high quality food and expect to pay the same as you do for a kebab on the street. But that’s what people expect with coffee.

    Nice review.

    • Hi Marcus,

      Thanks for the comment. You’re right about quality being worth paying for. And these guys are producing quality.

      The problem with the coffee industry using your restaurant analogy, is that the kebab shop has been charging premium prices for the last decade (or longer).

      $4 does seem like a lot to pay for a piccolo though. It was worth it. Quality wise. But it’s half the milk of a flat white and the same price.

  2. Thanks for the positive reviews!
    I was blown away on our first day by the number of Industry people, twitter peeps and coffee lovers who showed their support by turning up. I really appreciate your support towards us and the specialty coffee industry as a whole.
    In regards to our pricing structure..
    Take Away $3.50 and $4
    Dine In $4 and $4.50.
    After much consideration, this is how we decided to price the menu. You may like to note that if you get an espresso, double espresso, double ristretto, whatever, you wont pay more than $3.50. And that goes for any single origin we are offering! be it a $30/kg origin or a $50+ cup of excellence that’s all you have to pay. Likewise with our other brew methods, Pour over, cold drip and aeropress.

    Our ethos at Pourboy Espresso is to maintain the highest level of quality and integrity in everything we do, be it the coffee, Marks amazing menu or our service. All we can hope for, is that our customers appreciate the dedication and passion we apply to our crafts.

    • Hi Sebastian,

      I certainly think the two coffees I grabbed at lunch time were value for money. And I understand the need to charge a little more – there are overheads, and you’re sourcing better beans than most. And I’m thrilled it’s a capped price regardless of origin – that means great value when you’re featuring a Cup of Excellence bean…

      I think you lived up to your ethos. Don’t get me wrong. And I’m happy to pay the $1 extra to get great coffee. But price is a point of comparison between you guys and others in the specialty coffee arena. So I included it in the review. Happy to hear back from you if you think I’ve been unfair. But I don’t think any of my readers will be turned off by the idea of a great coffee experience for $4.

    • Also, your tattoo is truly awesome, and one day when I have a chance, I’m going to write a post about how you can always trust a barista with a coffee tattoo. It is one of the little things I look for when I’m prejudging a cafe…

  3. Kirsten

    Excellent coffee today, Sebastian!! Great to see someone from school doing so well and starting your own business. Wish there were more places like this on the Gold Coast to get quality coffee. I love the whole ‘modern’ and ‘chic’ feel of the place too. Will definitely be going there again the next time I’m roaming the streets of inner-city Brisbane.

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