December 23, 2011 Nathan’s Top 10 Brisbane Cafes for 2011

Finding good coffee in Brisbane isn’t hard. Choosing the best ten cafes in Brisbane is… But after a year of hard coffee drinking in the name of “research”… here are my results.

They’re decisions made on “vibe” and gut feel – but also using a range of categories including number of visits, average quality (ie consistency), wife approval factor, desirability, availability of parking, whether I’d take friends there, how readily I’d recommend said place to friends in the neighbourhood… etc. Applying my year’s coffee drinking to those categories has left me with the following results. The Corner Store gets an honourable mention – but some of my favourite staff have left, and I confess I haven’t been back since. Pourboy should also feel a bit ripped off, but their inner city location and non-weekend opening hours just don’t work for me.

Anyway. Here are the “winners”… links go to review.

Number 1: Dandelion and Driftwood: Dandelion and Driftwood has been my “local” all year. And it’s not all that close. Quality, consistency, and a rotating batch of amazing single origins get these guys over the line with room to spare.

Dandelion and Driftwood

Number 2: One Drop Specialty Coffee: One Drop is narrowly in second place. My wife would put their house blend ahead of Dandelion and Driftwood’s stock coffees. Personally I reckon it’s a coin toss between these guys and cafe number 3. Either way, it’s close competition at the top…

One Drop Specialty Coffee

Number 3: Cup Specialty Coffee: Cup do things in style. They probably have an aesthetic closest to my heart of all the cafes on the scene. West End gets three slots of the top five – and Cup is the best of that bunch.

Cup Coffee West End

Number 4: Veneziano’s First Pour: Veneziano doesn’t do a bad coffee, and two of the best single origins I’ve ever had were from here. Again, I reckon you could flip a coin to split these guys and Cup.

Veneziano First Pour

Number 5: BlackStar, West End: To be honest there are a couple of cafes I prefer to BlackStar. But they happen to use BlackStar’s beans – and I reckon the roastery should get the kudos for that.


Number 6: Campos: Campos does great food and good coffee. But it lacks some of the personal touch that the cafes above it exhibit (except maybe First Pour). Parking is also a pain.


Number 7: Fifth Battery Roasters: Fifth Battery has a cool menu, is set up in an old air hangar, and the coffee is consistently good. I had a cracker of an Ethiopian coffee here that made me go back twice in one day. It was that good.

Fifth Battery

Number 8: Shucked Espresso: I’ve only been to Shucked once. And it was last week. Had I been more, and been more able to speak of consistency, these guys could have placed much higher. The single origin I had on my single visit was the single best coffee I had in Brisbane all year.


Number 9: Bunker: Bunker loses out a little because its just a hole in the wall in Milton. On coffee alone they’re a hair’s breadth away from any of the places above them on this list. Their coffee, supplied by BlackStar and Cup, is sensational. But sitting barely works, parking is a pain, and its not a cafe so much as an espresso bar. But the coffee is grand. EDIT/UPDATE – Bunker tells me they’ll be open on Saturdays in 2012 – which is fantastic. And that they’ll have more seats – which is also fantastic. I also failed to mention that Bunker is a good coffee option at both the Kelvin Grove and West End markets.


Elixir: This slot was hardest to fill, and had I not been to Elixir a couple of times in the last few weeks it would have remained a write off. I feel a bit guilty for my initial review – because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed subsequent visits, and their seems to be more soul about the place than I might first have suggested.


Tagged: , , ,

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.