Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published November 20th 2011
Update December 4th 2018
Please note that some of these venues are closed and no longer trading (the article was published in 2011).
Brisbane's a romantic city. The wealthy and broke alike can enjoy a great night out with their partners – but where do you go on the next day? Sometimes a quiet coffee shop is the perfect atmosphere to build connections, whether romantic, platonic or professional. With that in mind, here are Brisbane's five best cafes:
This New Farm café has a funky interior and an extremely disturbing name. Is a Ponycat half pony, half cat? More importantly, which half is which? Don't go to this place, actually: although the coffee is spot-on and the breakfast is always tasty – especially the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon – you won't be able to get the idea of a ponycat out of your head. The staff are incredibly friendly, offering some of the best customer service in Brisbane, in a valiant attempt to distract you, but it won't work. Is the cat half scaled up to the size of a pony, or does the pony half shrink to the size of a cat? These questions will haunt your dreams.
A good café can be known for its coffee and food, or just its coffee – or neither, according to Three Monkeys. The primary attraction here is the décor, voted "most atmospheric in Brisbane". Greek aesthetics meet Eastern design in the series of themed rooms and the tea garden out the back: like a beer garden, but with tea. Couples – or shady businessmen – can gravitate to the shady nooks, while large groups of people can sit around big wooden tables. There's something for everybody here – if they enjoy the vibe.
On 618 Brunswick St, New Farm, Cirque is the place to go for a late breakfast. Like the Melbourne Arcadia Café, Cirque specializes in organic egg combinations: try the poached eggs with avocado, mushrooms, potato and much more on sourdough bread. Get the upstairs seats if you can – there's something about looking out over a busy street, sipping a coffee. The coffee, by the way, is excellent as well: not spectacular, but reliable and very palatable. And speaking of caffeine, there's always:
If Cirque is the breakfast king of Brisbane, then Elixir takes the coffee crown. Their coffee is actually spectacular – silky milk without any huge ugly bubbles, and espresso that's rich without being bitter. You can buy the Elixir house blend to take home with you, but unless you're a coffee wizard, you're probably better off letting the skilful baristas at Elixir make it. The food is nothing special, unfortunately, but if you're not going to Elixir for the coffee, what on earth are you going there for?
Miette's Boulangerie Patisserie
Miette's, located on 158 Graceville Avenue, is a bakery to please the most refined palate. Muffins, cakes, mini-pizzas; whatever you want, they've probably got it. Try the fig and ginger sourdough bread – take it home and tell your friends you baked it on your own. They'll revere you as some kind of deity (until they run into Miette's themselves). Unfortunately, prices have gone up a bit since Miette's opened, but it's still worth your time.
Know another Brisbane café that deserves mention – Foxy Bean, say, or Cup Coffee? Think one of these cafes doesn't deserve its spot on the list? Know what on earth a ponycat is? Pipe up in the comments; we'd love to hear from you.
Cirque and Ponycat are near the Nightowl on Brunswick st in New Farm. Ponycat is on same side as Gerties, Anise (opposite Nightowl) and Cirque is same side as Nightown but down the hill towards the valley. It's small and so is easily missed - it's the one with people waiting outside. As much as I love Cirque they are a bit thingy with seating people - they may have 2 larger tables free (inside / upstairs) but if there are only 2 of you, you'll wait outside until space for 2 comes up or they may let you sit at a bigger table.
I would like to try the Ponycat - intriguing name, but it seems they also close ridiculously early (my main gripe about cafes in Brisbane). So, I can never visit them for a coffee after work (after 4.30pm) on my home for a coffee to relax me and help me catch my breath before I hit home and the chores start.
I can vouch for the quality of both Cirque and Three Monkeys. Cirque is affordable, with food that is always tasty and sitting upstairs is definitely a bit of fun. I love Three Monkeys for its great range of cakes and hot drinks (particularly the chai latte, which comes with a giant bowl of honey); and of course its unique and quirky setting. Definitely two I would recommend.
"Shucked" in Creswell St near Breakfast creek is a great place to visit for bunch or just for a coffee. Some great food options for all palates and simply amazing coffee. The service is also great, is fantastic for all ages and kids as well. Its a funky little cafe with an eccentric twist that is always packed. We drive from south brisbane to there every week. It is the perfect way to start the day
Comfort at my Table in Cribb Street in Milton is, in my opinion, the best cafe in Brisbane. The food is absolutely delicious (particularly breakfasts) and the meals are just so much cheaper than anywhere else serving this level of quality - it's hard to beat bacon and eggs for less than $10.