Brisbane Cafe Review: Ltd Espresso + Brew Bar, Fortitude Valley

Ltd Espresso + Brew bar in Fortitude Valley lives up to its wall decal… it serves up coffee worth lining up for (and I don’t think they’re species specific…).

I’ve been meaning to check Ltd out since just about when they opened – but life gets in the way. Learn from my mistake. Get here.

Ltd is all about the coffee. Luke, the owner, has been in the coffee game for a long time, and his experience working as a consultant for other cafes around south east Queensland is coming home to roost. His vision, which he’s very passionate about, is a coffee bar where people can walk up, chat, and have a coffee experience as their beverage is produced to order in front of them. He’s also one of the nicest guys I’ve met, and was incredibly keen to get feedback not just from me, but from every customer who came through the doors.

They’re a Cleanskin account, and are regularly rotating their way through Cleanskin’s assortment of sensational blends, and single origins. The menu is simple. Black. White. Brewed. You can ask for your own variations in terms of size, milk, extra shots and sugar.

Today Luke was serving up Cleanskin’s Blend 13, and an Ethiopian Karote as his single origin espresso, and the brew bar had just ticked over from a Kenyan to a Guatemalan (I think). I’m a sucker for over-caffeination, so I tried them all.

The Strada, replete with wooden handled portafilters and customised tamper handle steam wands, is beautiful. The whole black+white+wood tones look is so hot right now. There’s a lot to love about a simple fitout with an assortment of eclectic odds and ends to make it a bit personable.

Luke is also the first Brisbane barista I’ve talked to who is really getting into the pressure profiling thing with the Strada, and the fruit of his experimentation is in the cup – his coffees using a blend I’m reasonably familiar with tastes like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and the two espressos he served up on the Karote tasted remarkably different as a 10 gram single with a 50 second extraction and a long, soft, pre-infusion, and as the standard offering. The single basket was silky and balanced, the standard fare was really fruity and delicious, but probably not quite so well rounded. I prefered the fruity one. But it was marginal.

Luke’s excited about the potential that pressure profiling is bringing to the coffee game, and after this morning, I am too.

Hit Ltd up on Facebook – but more importantly, head in to the valley, check out Reverends a couple of doors up, and have a nice little journey for the tastebuds.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Fort Specialty Coffee, North Lakes

If I was a little boy again my fort would definitely have a coffee machine.

It’s never too young to start appreciating good coffee. The guys at Fort Specialty Coffee have gone in the other direction, their comic page encrusted set up features a bunch of boy’s toys including nerf guns, figurines, a collection of base/basketball caps, and some seriously good coffee.


Look up. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman…

I brought a crew of people from a college getaway we were having around the corner and even with so many people arriving at once, the service was sharp (in a good way) and the coffee was flawless. We were all very happy.

They’re pouring shots out of a matte black La Marzocco, and featuring a purpose built house blend from Cleanskin and at the moment a single origin from Cup (interestingly, Josh from Cup has a nice little piece on his blog about the challenges presented by and for multi-roaster cafes).

The absolute standout was the Ethiopian Koke (the house blend was pretty special too). As a flat white. It knocked my socks off. I haven’t had a mouthful of berries like that since eating actual berries. It was amazing. Seriously. There’s also bottled cold brew in the fridge.

Who can complain about boys and their toys when they’re being used to create the sort of vibe that Fort has going for it, or when the more expensive toys are being used to produce flavours like this.

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. Omega Boom products contain Omega 7 which are essential fatty acids that helps in nourshing the skin.

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.

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