Camouflaged among the overgrown and interchangeable colours of the creeping fig hedge, is Bunker. As the hedge vines seep into the café walls from the outside in, through the doors and into the ceiling, it’s fair to say Bunker has its own unique wallpaper.

“The hedge is quite a big feature of the café,” says Owner Marcus Allison. “It changes colour and even buds with flowers in the right season.”

As people stop to take photos of its incredible facade, it seems this café is no longer a hidden gem in Brisbane’s Milton area, but is fast becoming a local treasure. Marcus discovered the former unused garage site two and a half years ago. It was once used as a World War II bomb shelter.

“When I first found it, it was fairly dirty, covered in graffiti and people would toss rubbish in it on their way passed. But I saw its potential,” says Marcus.

The small suburban café has since been transformed into a unique hangout and take-away haven for nearby business and industrial workers, train commuters and curious café explorers. Bunker serves Five Senses as their House Blend on their modified La Marzocco Linea 2-group, which Marcus describes as “full bodied, sweet with caramel tones”.

The café serves filter coffee via AeroPress and features a rotating selection of guest coffees for both espresso and filter brewing. Past favourites include local Brisbane roasters Cup Coffee, Fifth Battery Roasters and newcomers The single Guys.

“Customers can expect genuine, down to earth service and a strong focus on quality” says Marcus.”

Bunker also processes their very own chocolate, which features in their hot chocolate, coffee and bottled ice chocolate milk.

“Bunker is a unique experience. People initially come here for a variety of reasons, and we hope they leave inspired by the quality and space,” says Marcus. “Our focus is on specialty coffee and I enjoy seeing its constant evolution.”

Uncle Joe’s Coffee Shop

Uncle Joe’s Coffee House is like settling into a family member’s lounge. Adam Metelmann, Director of the Coffee House, has over 20 years experience behind the coffee machine and says this new place is his pride and joy.

“It’s rewarding to serve people who are as excited about coffee as we are,” he says.

The coffee brokerage and roasting facility is owned by roaster Mark Leo and Yili Wang from 3rd Crack Coffee. “We’ve made no compromise with our roasting, coffee machine and of the quality of coffee serve, and we’ve been happy with the results,” says Adam, who operates the coffee house with business partner emily senior.

Located in Coorparoo, the coffee house has embraced an “earthy, organic vibe”, complete with wood furnishing and matched with modern brews. The showpiece – the shiny Kees van der Westen machine sitting on the bench.

“The Mirage has been fully modified, similar to an analogue-style machine. I can’t believe its stability – when we get into large volumes, it’s just stunning to use.”

The coffee house has only been open a few months, but already a swarm of loyal clientele are calling Uncle Joe’s their second home. “When they come here they appreciate what we’re all about – and they keep coming back.”
Adam works closely with roaster Mark to produce the supafly House blend. The coffee comprises of beans from El Salvador Finca San Jose, El Salvador Finca El Aguila, and Rwanda Mig Maraba. “This coffee has a mix of shitake mushroom, elegant red berries, plum, a multi dark-chocolate taste with subtle fruits and a twist of plums to finish,” says Adam.

Uncle Joe’s offers single origins coffees that rotate weekly, including an Ethiopia Bench Maji and El Salvador Santa Felisa La Organica. The café also specialises in aero press and pour over.

The coffee house was named as an homage to Joe Hsu (Yili’s Uncle) of Orsir Coffee. Based in Taiwan, Adam says Joe Hsu is one of his coffee inspirations. He sources coffee for his own coffeecompany but Adam says his passion and coffee knowledge is “unheralded”.

At the end of the day, Adam says his coffee focus is all about quality over quantity. “I’d like nothing better than to stand behind the Kees van der Westen and make coffees all day,” he says.

Cliffs Café

Watching over the bustling traffic of Brisbane River sits a café with perhaps the best outlook over the Brisbane city skyline: Cliffs Café. Owner Nick Abbink says the café is ideally located in the newly developed Kangaroo Point Parklands and has become an icon in the area. Read more

Outer Space Espresso

In the quiet suburb of Fortitude Valley in central Brisbane lies the perfect cottage garden for a morning refresher or afternoon wind down.

Opened in January, Outer space espresso is an outdoor-seated café with vibrant Moroccan sails that transports any weary customer to an exotic getaway.

“We offer a relaxing environment where we serve great espresso and provide an intimate space where we can have a chat with our customers, get to know people and welcome them into our home,” says Manager Hayley Frew. “I try and tap into the market, understand our client needs and provide friendly customer service.”

Hayley has been working in the coffee industry for 15 years and says it’s an exciting niche she can’t help but like. “I enjoying meeting lots of people from different walks of life and making them a great espresso,” she says. “I hope from serving a good product, people will bring their friends, then they will bring their friends and so on.”

The café uses Toby’s Estate Coffee, a brand Hayley says isn’t so common in Brisbane but one she wanted to introduce to her coffee-loving clientele.
The house blend is Toby’s Estate’s espresso Rico, which Hayley describes as “very smooth with a sweet aroma that matches both espresso and milk- based coffees”. A range of single origins are also available, including Hayley’s personal favourite – an Ethiopian Sidamo. “It’s so smooth, quite sweet and produces a wonderful crema,” she says.

Along with a team of five staff, Hayley’s brother James Frew is also part of the Outer Space Espresso family. Hayley says the two work well in the busy café environment, however when it comes to coffee making, Hayley knows exactly who’s boss. “I’d have to say I’m better,” she laughs. “I’m older so I’m allowed to say that.”

The café offers a range of light meals for breakfast and lunch, including a breakfast burrito, beef lasagna and popular mini burgers with angus beef, cheddar, potato crisp and sides – perfect winter dishes.

Sourced Grocer

Owning his own grocery mart and café was only ever an idea for Jerome Batten. Enthused by the way different cultures share and prepare different foods, over time Jerome saw a niche market that resonated with him, and he went about making his dream a reality.

“I’ve built Sourced Grocer from the ground up and I’m all about connecting customers with food on a daily basis, knowing where it’s from and how it was treated,” Jerome says.

Sourced Grocer is a food and sensory environment and a place Jerome says has become a community meeting point because of its relaxed ambiance, inviting milk crate seats out the front, and of course it’s coffee.

In the heart of Teneriffe, Queensland, Jerome has recreated the quintessential old-fashioned neighbourhood grocer, complete with character, passion and quality coffee.
“I try to introduce produce to people that they may not be familiar with – accessible food that honours freshness and quality,” he says.

Sourced Grocer sources products from local butchers, cheesemakers, bakeries and fruits and vegetable growers. A must on the menu is the SG salad, a Quinoa salad with preserved lemon, fresh herbs, orange soaked currants and fresh micro herbs.

Sourced Grocer uses Cup Specialty Coffee, roasted by Josh Russell. The house blend is a three-bean blend with 50 per cent Brazilian Das almas beans, 30 per cent Brazil Paraíso beans and 25 per cent Kenya Kijiji.

The Brazil beans give a chocolate cocoa flavour and the Kenyan adds acidity. Head baristas Eliot and Penn make all the coffees using a Mazzer grinder and a La Marzocco two-group Linea.

“The cross over between grocer and café is a huge draw card. I just love working with such a great team of people,” says Jerome. People understand what we’re trying to achieve and that makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Dancing Bean

Rob Mergard’s interest in coffee began when he realised he could make a better coffee at home than he could buy from a Brisbane café.

A Qantas mechanical engineer for 14 years, Rob says he would spend a lot of time at a local café to hone his skills and experiment with coffee machines. It was this interest that sparked Rob’s coffee passion. “I wanted to have my own business and I wanted to be in control of my own destiny,” he says.

With that in mind, Rob set up one of the first legal coffee carts in Brisbane in 1999 and started his own coffee roasting facility in Banyo, complete with an espresso bar and an expobar multi- boiler machine.

The Dancing Bean house blend is a four-bean combination of Arabicas from Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala. “This blend has high acidity, a hint of chocolate and deep, rich coffee tones that’s great for black and milk-based coffees,” Rob says. A single origin is also available and rotated each month. A favourite at time of writing was the Guatemalea Huehuetenango.

In addition to the expanding franchise business in Brisbane, the Dancing Bean has expanded to Egypt. Rob was approached by Egyptian businessman Joseph Hannah, and together they established the new franchise in a building in Cairo.

From day one, Rob says the espresso bar is having a great impact on the egyptian coffee market among a wide band of chains, and says customers are experiencing flavours they’ve never experienced from coffee before.

“The new shop has created many opportunities for people and it’s fulfilling to see how one job can impact someone’s life,” Rob says. Many university graduates applied for the roaster’s position at the Cairo location, however, Rob says a man named Syeed, with limited schooling but a clear passion and determination, was the lucky applicant.

Despite the hurdles roasters face in the industry, Rob says he’s satisfied with the business he started from the ground up. “There’s been times I wanted to throw it all in, but I never had a plan B,” he says. “At the end of the day I would rather tackle the challenges and control my own life and be responsible for doing something I love and that’s fulfilling.”

Dancing Bean is constantly looking to expand to potential franchises and wholesale customers. “I am more than happy to mentor people and train them in this industry,” Rob says. “I would like to assist them, then lead them on their own destiny.”

Le Bon Choix

If you hear some French music floating in the air in central Brisbane, and can smell the scent of traditional baguettes, you’ve possibly come across Le Bon Choix Bakery.

Owner Savico Basset-Rouge opened the traditional French Boulangerie and Patisserie six years ago, looking to bring a taste of France to Queensland. His success has led to regular press coverage, a faithful clientele, two locations and a wholesale and catering business.

The flower in the beret of this popular spot is the surprisingly quality coffee the business prides itself upon, to accompany the mouth-watering treats. Vincent Cornette manages the Ascot location and takes care of everything that is coffee. After studying hospitality and coffee training specifically at William Angliss in Melbourne, he worked at some Melbourne cafés before bringing his skills up North.

Vincent completed the training shortly after arriving in Australia six years ago, and has been working as a barista ever since.

“I love the joy of giving someone a good cup of coffee they’re impressed with,” he says. “Those who come in regularly know what to expect, but those who don’t are always pleasantly surprised.”

While Vincent has only been with Le Bon Choix for a year, the chain has been serving Map coffee from its beginning. Vincent has worked with other coffee companies in the past, and notes that his experience with Map coffee has proven to product a reliable, consistent and smooth cup. He says he’s especially impressed with their service.

“Any problems we have, we can call them up and they’re here right away,” he says.

Vincent says the Ascot store attracts a more local clientele, who know they can stop in for a reliably top cup of coffee and a treat. In the city, he notes its more office workers, but even their the location has proven as popular for its coffee as it is for its food.

Coffee aside, the highlight of Le Bon Choix, which translates into ‘The Best Choice’ has to be the amazing baked goods. Traditional baguettes , pastries, mousse cakes and macaroons all combined with great service represent the true passion of Le Bon Choix.

Pourboy Espresso

Nestled among the Brisbane CBD-hub is Pourboy espresso, a haven for local office workers. Owned by chef, Mark Bell and barista, Sebastian Butler-White, this fine dining specialty coffee outlet opened in March and is already making a name for itself within the high-end café world.

Together, Mark and Sebastian have combined their extensive hospitality experience to produce a standout foyer café. Mark incorporates finesse into the menu with attention to detail and quality products that Sebastian says are appreciated by their clientele.

Serving breakfast and lunch, popular items from the menu include the Mushroom Duxcelles with buffalo ricotta, or at lunch, a salad of seared king salmon nicoise with green beans, capers, tomatoes and an aged balsamic dressing salad.

Brioches are another favourite item, which Sebastian says are a “three-day ordeal” because of all the preparation time taken to produce this small but delicious sweet treat.

The café uses Mecca espresso beans from Sydney and a Synesso coffee machine. The signature Mecca blend is known as a “dark horse, a combination of Ethiopian Operation Cherry Red, Costa Rican Honey Prep and a Kenyan Kangocho AA.
Other coffees available include single origin beans, such as a Panama Elida estate and a Kenyan Karimikui Peaberry. Alternate brewing methods available are pour overs, aero press and cold drip methods.

“We’re pushing high quality coffee and matching that with the quality of food,” says Sebastian. “We want to keep the same standard without compromise.”
Sebastian says the café environment is all about friendliness. “You could be a coffee nerd, a roaster, or never drunk a coffee before in your life and you still get the best service,” he says.

“There’s nothing like knowing all our regular customers by name, building great relationships and then going out with them on Friday afternoon for a beer.”

Sexie Coffie

Driving down the Bruce Highway in Queensland, a billboard sign with an attractive pair of legs and steaming cup of coffee has motorists losing focus on the road and shifting their attention to the words Sexie Coffie.

Owned by Jasen Barrie, sexie Coffie is a café, roaster and wholesaler, which started in 2003 and has surprised customers with its cheeky, quirky nature and quality coffee for the past eight years.
“We needed to come up with something that was going to create impact, create conversation and make the travelling public pull off the side of the road and come and visit,” Jasen says. “as George W. Bush says, ‘the shock and awe’ of it was to create that real controversy.”

Situated on a highway, a stream of tourists from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, America and Japan typically stop-by, intrigued by the fresh and quirky business. What’s surprising about this café is that behind the naughty facade is a professional business that is serious about their coffee.
“When customers come into our store, there’s actually nothing controversial they can attach to us,” Jasen says.

Sexie Coffie is roasted at a nearby site using a 30 kilogram Joper coffee roaster. With an espresso oriented focus, Sexie Coffie offers a wide range of single origin blends available every month at the Maryborough and Rockhampton sites, including Desire, a soft, subtle blend that won bronze in the espresso category at the Melbourne fine foods and Mojo, an award-winning blend at the sydney fine foods.

With a cheeky breakfast and lunch menu, it’s sure to get customers talking. Try ordering an International Fling? Rough and Ready, or perhaps something Between The Sheets?
Jasen says the biggest selling items are the Chickie Babe sandwiches and Tool Box.

Coffee training sessions for staff, clients and public are also available at all sexie Coffie locations.
“Our market is very much about enthusing young people, staff and customers in the art of drinking pretty much just bloody good coffee,” Jasen says. “I love to see my customers get a kick out of the concept and have a laugh.”

Java Coast Café

Tucked away in the heart of the Brisbane court precinct, down a narrow little alley way, is Java Coast Café, a haven for anyone searching for an escape.

Nearby the courtrooms of the supreme and district courts and the offices at the state Law building, Java Coast Café caters for the hectic worker and for the customer wanting a tranquil experience. Read more

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