There's graffiti sprayed over the walls, tattoo art and magazines on the tables, Australian hardcore band Deez Nuts screaming over the sound system, a sugar bowl in the shape of a skull and a baseball bat hanging in full view behind the counter. So if the caffeine at Death Before Decaf isn't enough to give you a jolt, the decor surely will. But it's a good jolt, a welcome jolt, the kind of jolt that makes you glad to be alive.
Coffee table art depicting Death Before Decaf's siren song. Author image.
I stumbled into Death Before Decaf early one Sunday morning and despite (or perhaps because of) its in-your-faceness, the place just put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. The latte was full-bodied and fast and decorated with a malevolently-grinning rabbit or cat (I couldn't be sure which, it was all in the ears) by the two high-spirited baristas.
Eschewing the upturned milk crates that served as makeshift footpath stools, I sat inside on the massive leather lounge and watched the procession of customers who came in afterwards. There were clean-cut young professionals from neighbouring New Farm, groups of clubbers lobbing in from Fortitude Valley drinking spots just down the road, a couple in exercise gear with mirror image facial piercings, a handful of guys in their Sunday best suits. Because Death Before Decaf is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it also attracts lots of police, paramedics and others who can be required to work when the rest of us are getting some shut-eye.
Oh deer, is that the time? You could lose yourself in here. Author image.
Wedged incongruously between a vet surgery and a hairdressing salon, this badass espresso bar oozes attitude and is a feast for the senses. The proprietors have a wicked sense of humour - perhaps that what softens the sort of vibe some may find intimidating. For example, as I'm rummaging around for loose change, I spot a sign on the counter: 'Fifty cents extra for syrups, chai, choc or wanky milk - soy, zymil, almond etc'. There's also a sign accompanying the baseball bat - but so as not to steal this punchline, that's as much as I'll say for now.
This wild child has a sister outlet in the Bellissimo kiosk in New Farm park. So though Death Before Decaf is indeed the new kid on the block, it has a good pedigree, along with personality and pluck that should carry it through a long and prosperous life.