Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear leather aprons and are more likely to get excited about steam wands, extraction times and golden crema than they are about spandex suits or supervillains. The gun baristas at these cafés pump out top-notch coffee day after day – and they won’t turn you away if you’re paying by card.
Woah – this place is nuts. For years it's been on Brisbane bean lovers’ radars as one of the very best cups. The La Marzocco is kept crazy busy pushing out relentless pour after pour behind pressed metal bi-folds retracted to show the interior of a tiny-as-can-be, converted concrete air raid shelter. Don't worry – a pretty shawl of creeping vine transforms her from Plain Jane to very good looking indeed. There's no allegiance to any one roaster here, and if coffee's not your jam, Bunker are pretty proud of their brand of Heirloom hot chocolate.
Bakery Lane seems the perfect place to find a brownie palace serving housemade, gluten-free goodies. Staff are sweet as can be, decked out American diner-style in a pink dresses, complete with white aprons secured with a bow. They’re as busy as bees ferrying steaming cups of Merlo coffee and plate, after plate of brownies to Bakery Lane's central outdoor courtyard. The eat-in/takeaway menu is long and luscious and we can't go past the brownie with a liquid burst of salted caramel at its heart.
John Mills is the hardest dude to find hidden in his rough-hewn, exposed brick heritage building digs down an alleyway between Funk Coffee and Comics Etc. The original brass signage is misleading too, reading, "John Mills Himself, A High Class Printing Business". Regardless, Brisbane coffee fans have found him and have taken him into their hearts, often touting the fella as the place to be for the best coffee in town. JM supports local roasters and the jittering, caffeine-craving throng of customers snaking up the alleyway can't be wrong.
In characterless concrete surrounds, Filip Pilioras' Paladar Fumior Salon blazes boldly with a stunning red-painted facade. Rusted iron windows are peepholes into a courtyard of cactus showing stairs leading to a sunny rooftop space, the best place bar none for the past 12 years to toke on a cigar and sip a serious coffee made from Filip's house-roasted beans. It's a tiny den of Cuban curios and cigars and is where the serious art of coffee and conversation are at their enchanting best.
Fox Street, Albion is a curious patch: industrial ugliness sharing space with pretty Fox Street Gardens, Emile and Solange fromagerie and the decent coffee of Vieille Branche. The café is brim full with bric-a-brac and is a creative space for workshops (spoon carving anyone?) The menu is French accented: think tartines and our pick, omelette filled with oozing Camembert and earthy mushrooms. Wash it down with an organic Bare Bones coffee and take it with if you're on the hoof.