Brisbane City

Diego’s Drop Iced Tea with a Twist and the Jan Powers Market

 
  
The Wednesday Jan Powers Farmers’ Market in Brisbane  
Today has been one of those days where I needed to just stop rushing around like a mad woman. At work, I’m constantly trying to be more efficient, faster, more productive. When I get home, rush to the gym or yoga, hurry to get dinner made, and even, hurry up to catch The Night Manager on the TV. On my days off, I’m constantly rushing around to do homework and everything that didn’t fit in in the week. 
This morning, as I rushed to the library, I passed through the Jan Powers market. Something in my mind just stopped and said, “Enough” and forced me to slow down. I love markets and all the sounds, fragrances and assorted produce and wares that are tucked under canopies. If there is one day that is just going to be shamelessly mine, it’s today. 
I strolled through the stalls and stopped to chat and taste-test from new and interesting vendors like the cricket protein cookies from Bugsy Bros. There was my favourite French charcuterie with the amazing duck rillette. The Turkish bakery and the lady with tempting jams like rhubarb and banana jam. So many delightful things in one spot! 
Now, the coffee. I’ve heard of Diego’s Drop Iced teas before from being voted as one of Brisbane’s best iced teas and had to go. I didn’t expect to see that their sign that says “The World’s best iced coffee”. So, challenge accepted. Owners Katie and Elias are just so kind and friendly. Not only did I try their iced coffee on coconut, but a lemongrass ginger iced tea as well.     

  

 

 Iced coffee with coconut milk and iced tea with green tea base from Diego’s Drop 

They’re not kidding. $5 of delicious times, people. The taste is spot on, bold, creamy from the coconut milk, and just enough ice without being watered down. Elias said something that was just pure and in sync with what I believe to be what really makes fantastic coffee (and food). It’s made with love. Anyone can make a good cup of coffee, but it’s the experience that makes a great one stand out.

  
Since it’s my leisure day at the market and library, I sat and listened to Elias play some beautiful guitar with another cup of iced coffee. What’s the rush?

   
 Happy Wednesday! 

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South East

Stomp Espresso 

I will fully admit to being a wee biased about Stomp Espresso. Let’s just say, when I was actively working as a barista and juice bar supervisor, I’d go to Stomp every morning before work. Is that coffee treason? Maybe, or just loyalty. After all, they know my name, like all the other regulars.


 Even in their busiest of times, the whole team there are friendly and quick with orders. Without exaggeration, I’ve never had a less than lovely cup of coffee. This morning, like most times, I ordered a bagel with avocado and usual medium almond flat white. Even though I do eat dairy, I like an almond milk coffee on most days, but it is really, really hard to find a good one made. Alternative milks are increasing in popularity because of lactose intolerance, Paleo diets, and vegans, but it seems like very few places know how to work with them. I’ve even been to some places that were tailor made for raw organic Paleo vegans and cups of coconut or almond milk lattes were anything but pleasurable. Don’t get me started on being served curdled alt milk. Stomp puts some sort of love and magic into their coffee and are experts at non-dairy milk based drinks. Dairy free people, you are welcome.

 

☕️☕️☕️☕️ Medium flat white $4.50 + almond milk .50

 

Anyway, I digress.

I also got a cold brew coffee, something I’m rarely in the mood for. They’re kind of well known for their cold brewed coffee! It was pretty good actually. Lovers of cold brew coffee will love it! Refreshing, smooth, all good.

 

homemade cold brew coffee $5

 

Ok, onto the food. I’m partial to bagels because, well, I went to high school in New Jersey and lived in NYC and places where bagels are life. While I wait to go to a Jersey style bagel place with a wall of bagels, a variety of Schmear, and a good toasted Everything Bagel with cream cheese, I’ll keep getting a Bagel Boys bagel from Stomp. Today was a rye bagel with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toasted with avocado.


So, let me give an mention to some of their sexier, (non-bagel) menu items made to order:
Quinoa and Coconut pancake stack with seasonal berries, banana, date syrup, and coconut yogurt (gf, df, Paleo)

Sweet potato hash cake stack with smoked salmon, poached egg, avocado, and greens (gf)

Banana Walnut Bread with Lemon Date whipped ricotta

Coveted and well sought after, gluten free caramel pecan slice and iced Vovo slice.

They’re gourmet, local, and friendly to vegans, Paleo devotees, and people with gluten free needs. It is a place where everyone from foodies and the average coffee (or tea) lover can get their nosh on and be comfortable and happy. They’re just cool.

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Mugged Espresso

   
 
I’m just gonna go ahead and admit it: any place that uses puns, is my favourite place. The corner coffee stand is one of many down Oxford St, Bulimba, but Mugged definitely stands alone. They know their regulars’ names, everyone is friendly, and slings out cups of beautiful coffee even when busy. 

I’ve been there enough times already to decide that the flat whites are consistently good and worth being a regular coffee bar. Campos Coffee in every cup means quality and a nice, mellow reliable brew. Talented baristas can make this already lovely bean into something special and the ladies at Mugged do just that. 

I’m sure many customers of Mugged get their coffees and be on their way to days filled with hectic schedules and deadlines or budgets or unpleasant coworkers. The stay at home mums and nannies stop on their way to play dates and Pilates, but all, ALL, leave with a smile.  This week, I got my small flat white and stopped at the park across the street before getting into my car. I watched the children play and took in the greenery of the quaint suburban neighbourhood. Never once did my smile fade. Stress just seemed to melt for a few moments while I held my Campos coffee from Mugged. 

 

Are you kitten me right meow with this coffee pun?


Stop there, carry on with your day, or stay in their infinite positivity. The choice is yours. Just know you’re bound for a lovely cup of coffee and pleasant conversation at Mugged. 

☕️☕️☕️small flat white  $3.50

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French Twist

   
 
Every once in a while, you discover a true gem. On a recommendation, I discovered something more than beautiful coffee and pure, freshly homebaked croissant. I discovered a place that touched me emotionally and transported me to the neighbourhoods of Paris. This is a pretty big deal to me too as I consider myself 3% French and fantasize daily about running away to bake bread in Provance. 

The morning air was so fresh with dew on grass, or maybe just suburban lawn sprinklers, but for the sake of story imagery, let’s just say, romantic morning dew. While so many of the Bulimba neighbourhood residents were going off to work, I was driving into a quiet cul de sac off the main streets. Once I parked and looked at the quaint cafe, I knew I found something special, a treasure. 

  
Simple decor that blended indoors and out, highlighted by cast iron cafe chairs and antique touches like a butchers block showcased the fresh baked goods. Instantly, I smirked to myself with fond memories of ordering breakfast at a little shop in the 17th arrondissement.  After studying some French, it was the first place I used my wonky, broken pronunciation of such beautiful words. The fragrance of pastry, swirls and hissing of the espresso machine, beautiful atmosphere with calm, relaxed patrons, just everything about a morning that was not stressed or timed… Was overwhelming. 

Today I stood there, undecided on what to eat with my tummy rumbling after morning yoga. Do I dare eat a buttery, flakey, golden croissant? Or order the heavenly sounding potato rosti with poached eggs, and tarragon hollandaise? Both? 

After seeing one sign, I made up my mind. 

   

  

After I ordered my breakfast and flat white, I sat down at the rustic farm table and looked around, fiddling with camera memory. There was a moment where I didn’t care if I couldn’t take photos because it would have meant that the meal was all to myself. Before I could begin my Duolingo French lesson, the kind and hospitable cafe staff came to the table with cold water and cup and a plate of croissant with butter and jam. We chatted and I told her that I was already smitten with the place enough to write about it. Just smitten! She offered to show me the other side of the building that they open up for the weekend crowds. I was welcome to walk around and take photos. 

Once the panelled wood door was opened with key, I stepped into the vast open space and was taken back by its colour and beauty. In a complete Wonderland contrast to the front of house, the eccentric energy and comfy, bohemian vignettes that each had unique intimacy were simply, awesome. It laid somewhere between a Montmarte artist loft and the NYC Chelsea antiques store that served as my retreat from domestic sadness. It was clear why people want to hang out in there. It has soul and beauty.

   
    
 
Now, getting back to that breakfast… 

  
One of the better coffees I’ve had in the five years of being in Australia. Top 5. 

French Twist understands the harmony of food and beverage with atmosphere and the music they make when he soul is touched. To quote my mother, “When there is art on the walls and books on the shelves, there will always be soul about a room.” I think that is true about coffee and food as well. After all, food is all about the senses. We see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and feel. I don’t think the owners were intending to connect emotionally with customers or stay true to its name sake of “French Twist” by mixing humility, culture,  and passion for well made food and coffee, but that’s what I felt on this morning when I needed to be inspired. 

I hope many people will experience this gem, and others like it, like I did. Im sorry, I completely forgot how much I paid and forgot where my receipt is. 

French Twist at 5 Corio St Bulimba, 07 3902 1519

They even take orders for their cakes and pastry. 

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South East

The Rare Pear Fine Food Cafe 

  
Situated on Logan Road in Holland Park, this always bustling cafe is the place to be. I come to this area frequently and every time I walk past, it is packed with happy customers and delightful food fragrances of herbs, truffle oil, garlic, sugar, and coffee drift through the air.

Today, I was absolutely tickled when I was offered a table outside, under one of the umbrellas after I said a take away cup isn’t a bother. After all, I could see how busy they were. The waitstaff were so nice and while rushing about, still had time to be friendly and offer customer service with a smile. When I sat down, my waiter brought a glass and bottle of water.  

Again, with my fondness of open kitchens, I could see the chefs working away. While I didn’t eat anything, it was a bonus point for me. 

The DiBella coffee was one of the better pours from the roasters I’ve had. A short black was smooth, stronger than Thor’s hammer, without bitterness. I don’t know if it is just me or the bean, but there was a mild chocolate aftertaste. Perhaps it was the overdose of Cadbury mini eggs…and Kinder surprise. And Cadbury bunnies… And Lindor truffles over the weekend, but it was lovely.

  
☕️☕️☕️☕️ A short black /single shot of espresso, was $2.80

    
 

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Swish Espresso 

  
The mighty little shop with the artisan coffeehouse vibe is a local favourite to many, including me. While there are a couple other good places for a cup of coffee on Logan Rd in Holland Park, Swish Espresso just does a quality job of making coffee with a smile. 

  
Their display case is filled with artisanal coffee breads, sandwiches, and assorted goodies, with many gluten free. It feels personal and fresh to have zucchini bread sliced straight off the loaf, instead of a slice that was wrapped for days in plastic cling wrap or left out to dry. 

More noticeable than the food or drink at Swish Espresso is the service. Even the lovely owner smiles to everyone and helps to wash dishes. I appreciate the combination of self serve in the way of punching coffee cards or pouring a glass of water and full service with plates and cup and saucer being brought to the table.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased in my affection toward Swish, as it is one of my favourites in the Brisbane area. Sometimes, after a long walk or leisurely jog, I make a pit stop for a small coffee and glass of water. Most of the time, it’s a take away cup that’s sipped slowly in the park nearby, but sometimes, I sit in the front and watch the cars go by. Fitness gurus would probably freak out at the idea of a flat white after a workout instead of protein powder, but to me, I appreciate the beautiful moment to myself that slows time. 

Today, I sat at the back patio along with two other parties having an Easter Monday brunch. As the morning rain drizzled down, a cool, autumn breeze came through. The calm in the air kissed everyone on the cheek. 

My flat white was creamy, not overly foamy, dark, and strong. It was visually appealing by being presented in pretty crockery, with art flourish in the pour. Swish Espresso gets a bonus point, of course, because of the Chocolate Freckle placed on the saucer.    
 
☕️☕️☕️🍫 A standard flat white was $3.50 

I also really love those free advertisement art postcards you find in coffee houses and cafes. 

  

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Coffee Gear

DIY Sharpie Art Mugs

  

 This is one of those crafts on Pinterest that I’ve been wanting to try, but was clearly too lazy for it. Four years ago, my sister and I bought two big, white mugs at a market. When she returned to Texas, I’ve kept them and debated whether to draw on them or not. The last time I tried the sharpie on mugs thing, it failed miserably. Finally, Pinterest came through with another DIY tutorial that actually worked. I’ve scrubbed these and they’re still totally fine. 

 Wash your oven proof mug thoroughly and make sure it is totally dry. Decide on your coffee pun, drawing, or amazing work of art. Then, plan where it will go and either map it out on a separate piece of paper or free style draw it (like I did). 

I got my inspiration for the Notorious BIG portrait from http://hiphopillies.com/

 

Notorious BIG illustration by hiphopillies.com

 
Use your Sharpie markers in black or any colour. Allow to dry over night or for best results, 72 hours, but seriously who has that time and patience? Two mugs out of commission for 3 days? Nah. 
  
  
If you mess up, it’s ok, just scrub off with a sponge and try again! 

Place your artsy mugs on a baking tray, in a cold oven. Then heat to 300F/150C and bake for 1hr. Allow to cool. Hand wash after each use. 

 

front and back view of the Notorious BIG / Big Coffee mug

 
When your coffee cup gets stained, just mix water and baking soda in the mug to form a paste and scrub with a paper towel. Good as new! 

Enjoy your new personalised coffee (or tea) mugs! I hope my sister loves her Biggie mug. 😊

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