’s Top Ten Cafes in Brisbane from 2012

This was an incredibly hard list to put together. Initially I was going to draw from the pool of every cafe in Brisbane – and I’ll still probably make a universal top ten as a page here – but I decided, instead, to put together a list of the top ten cafes I experienced for the first time in 2012. This means perennial favourites Dandelion and Driftwood aren’t being pitted against new favourites like Uncle Joe’s and Grindhouse – there’s a decidedly south side flavour to this list – as there was a north side flavour in 2011 – and this is undoubtably a result of our new geographic situation – but I’d say there has been a little bit more growth on this side of town this year.

One of the cafes doesn’t have an existing review here – because I forgot – but I’m a big fan of cafe number 10 (and its various iterations) – so will head back in in the next couple of weeks so that the review is based on a fresh experience.

Sadly, there’s been some shrinkage too – and the list became harder to put together because one of my favourites – Igloo – is no longer, and another little gem, Five Sugars, also closed its doors.

The top five was the hardest to split – in the end Grindhouse edged out Cleanskin and Dramanti because I went there more frequently, and I found Cleanskin and Dramanti incredibly difficult to split – but gave Cleanskin the nod in part as a homage to Igloo, and in part because I’ve enjoyed using their beans in our coffee cart at church. So it’s a product of a little bias – and shouldn’t be seen as indicative of superior quality.

These ten cafes are all doing great stuff – whether they’re roasting for themselves and others (Cup has had a stellar year on that front, according to this list…), or setting up shop where shops needed to be set up. I heartily recommend all of them.

I predict that a couple of places whose doors I didn’t darken this year, or who have just opened – LTD, and the new boys The Single Guys, in Kenmore, will make the list next year.

But now, without further ado, the 2012 top ten…


1. Uncle Joe’s Coffee House, Coorparoo
2. Cup Coffee’s Woolloongabba Roastery, Woolloongabba
3. Grindhouse Specialty Coffee, Stones Corner
4. Cleanskin Coffee Co, Brendale
5. Dramanti Artisan Roasters, Wynnum
6. Reverends Fine Coffee, Fortitude Valley
7. Black Sheep Coffee, Rocklea8. The Rogue Rennard, Paddington
9. The Little Prince, Woolloongabba
10. Brother Espresso, Bulimba

Here are some posters made using Phoster’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.


Creative design from the South

Get in touch with us!