9 of the best coffee shops in and around Cairns
Like most people on this planet with a mild physical dependence on coffee you might be worried about keeping scuba fit and holiday happy without the magic bean. Have no fear; for every one of the 160,000 residents of Cairns, there are another 2.7 million visitors who travel here every single year. That’s a lot of cranky peeps if they don’t get their coffee just right.
Thankfully good – indeed, great – coffee shops do exist. Hit the high notes during your holiday with this list of Cairns’ best brews.
Stop #1: Sipping Duck Café
There’s two things you’ll like about the Sipping Duck: It imports high-altitude beans from Latin America and roasts ’em daily and second, it’s fronted by barista and co-owner, Erik Ruelin, a half-French, half-Australian artist, who uses his creative skill to draw toothpick art on the crema.
Why go? With the first of two locations in Stratford, conveniently just outside the airport drive, the relaxed environment is frequented by locals. Besides, who doesn’t want a bit of anime with their brew?
Take me there: 29 Johnston St, Stratford & 15/223 Hartley St, Portsmith.
Stop #2: Blackbird Laneway
Troy Furner has been in coffee since he left school. Today, he and his wife run Blackbird Espresso, a morning perk for a barrage of lawyers en route to court, delivery dudes in their hi-viz fluoros and those who walk blocks just to lap up his Fairtrade organic house blend topped up by Misty Mountain milk from nearby Millaa Millaa.
For the non-dairy drinkers, Bonsoy Soy Milk, MilkLab Almond Milk and MilkLab Coconut Milk are also on the menu.
Why go? It’s pretty much the best coffee in town and it’s a local fave. Note: The focus is on the coffee and there is limited seating.
Take me there: Oceana Walk Arcade, 13/62 Grafton St, Cairns.
Stop #3: Bang & Grind
One shot of coffee and two shots of happiness. That’s what you’ll get at Bang & Grind, an independent café where the service dials up the friendship metre.
For holidaymakers, it also opens at 6am allowing a lot of time for sipping before snorkelling.
Why go? Apart from the decent coffee and friendly service, it’s one of the best places to perch and watch the world go by.
Take me there: 8/14 Spence Street, Cairns.
Stop #4: The Chamber Room
Come for the brew, stay for the brew and mouth-watering Butterbing cookie sandwiches straight outta Melbourne.
These guys have become legends on the coffee circuit since opening their speciality espresso and brew bar in the CBD’s Village Lane, but it’s not just their quality drip and sweet and savoury treats that are doing the trick. The owners are also known to happily sit down and guide you through the raft of choices and pouring processes. Total legends.
Why go? TCR is a hub for adults and promises no little disturbances. That means no milkshakes, no syrups, no babycinos i.e. no kids!
Take me there: Village Lane, 20 Lake Street, Cairns.
Stop #5: Caffiend
There’s a reason why first-timers to Caffiend always go back. Actually, make that three.
Cue deliciously good coffee roasted under the venue’s own Tattooed Sailor brand, paired with hearty bites designed on locally available and (mostly) seasonal produce, wrapped up in a trendy, Insta-worthy space with some serious art gallery feels.
Why go? It’s the coolest place in town and pumps out chilled tunes along with your brew.
Take me there: 72 Grafton Street, Cairns.
Stop #6: Origin Espresso
As one reviewer on Beanhunter puts it: “This is the spot where burnt Melbournians come to drink Melbourne-quality coffee that isn’t burnt.”
Now roasting in two cafe locations – the northern ‘burb of Stratford (just over 10 mins from the Cairns CBD) and Port Douglas – coffee snobs are treated to laid-back interiors blending well with beans from their own Four Mile Roasters (full-bodied and earthy) to produce a heavenly smooth brew.
Why go? You could easily while away half a day in the colourful industrial-meets-tropical chic interiors.
Take me there: 1 Dalgety St, Stratford & 21-23 Warner Street, Port Douglas.
Stop #7: Coffee Works
Who would have thought that a massive Titan shed in the middle of a light industrial estate one hour inland from Cairns in Mareeba could brew such fun?
Coffee Works is a mad cacophony of colour and aromas; a blend of chocolate shop meets Indian bazaar, a well-curated museum of historical coffee grinders and a kind of Disneyland for bean lovers, serving up more than 43 different blends.
Why go? To sample as many coffee flavours and liqueurs as your body can tolerate. Oh, and to also buy their number one souvenir: Queensland Blue Beans.
Take me there: 136 Mason St, Mareeba.
Stop #8: Petals & Pinecones
Their tagline is coffee and creativity, and boy, do they mean it.
Petals & Pinecones has become a destination in itself on the Atherton Tablelands thanks to the mother-daughter duo, Rylee and Anita. What they’ve created can only be described as the Willy Wonka of coffee shops, bursting with a kaleidoscope of flavours and colours from deliciously naughty sweet treats to jam-packed healthy hits.
While you might say to yourself you’re only here for the caffeine hit, expect to be subsequently persuaded into one of their milkshakes on steroids.
Why go? Check out their Instagram and you’ll see why.
Take me there: 6-8 Herberton Road, Atherton Tablelands.
Stop #9: Skybury Café & Roastery
Want a view with your brew? Then put Skybury on the list and drink up the sweeping vistas over a plantation that harvests low-altitude beans using only sustainable farming methods.
The family-owned business has been growing coffee for over 30 years on their 375-acre property (as well as tropical fruits), so rest assured they know their shiz when it comes to the liquid gold.
Why go? One word: views.
Take me there: 136 Ivicevic Road, Mareeba.