Cairns 5 Best Cups of Coffee

By nicky  //  Restaurants  //  20 Comments
What is it about the charm of an amazing cup of coffee? Be it espresso, cappucino or latte, whatever your preference, people travel great distances to savour their favourite brew. Since the Cairns Post is currently running a 'best coffee in town' competition, we thought you might like to hear our opinion. We have surveyed, sipped and sampled all over Cairns to bring you what we believe are the 5 best cups of coffee.

#1. Caffiend

Caffiend is owned by a hard case coffee crazy, Ollie, who is passionate about every cup of coffee he serves. If you too adore espressos, ristrettos, single origin and macchiatos then this should be your local.

#2. Silk Caffe

A fresh (and welcome!) newcomer to the Cairns coffee scene, this seasoned cafe owner has found a niche location. Reminiscent of a stand-up Italian espresso bar, everything is right here; the beans, the barista, the machine, and of course, the coffee.

#3. Tosca Trattoria

The discovery of Tosca's as a top notch coffee stopover was an accident after recently meeting the owner, Paul, when he was the winner of a latte art competition. His specialty is the piccolo latte, but honestly all the coffee here is awesome. Tosca's is head-and-shoulders above all other cups of coffee at Cairns Central.

#4. Bang Espresso

In our (humble) opinion Bang Espresso was the pioneer of the developing coffee culture of Cairns. Their Melbournesque styling and no nonsence cafe really brought the Cairns coffee connossoirs out of the woodwork. Bang would be #2 if you were always lucky enough to get a coffee by baristas Erol or Ian.

#5. Industry One

One of Cairns' few specialty coffee roasters, the aroma as you enter Industry One is intoxicatingly good. Their coffee is pretty good too! A real industry player, Industry One actively engages the wider coffee community by holding regular events like latte art competitions, and cupping nights.

So... how did we work it out?

Recently one of the CairnsDining team judged the Cairns Barista Championships which is an official competition under AustraAsian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA) regulation. We used the same competition judging technique and scoring system. At each cafe we sampled an espresso and a cappucino. And probably cake too, but they didn't make it onto the judging criteria. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts of the memorable cups of coffee in Cairns. Or alternatively go vote for your favourite at the Cairns Post.
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20 Comments to “Cairns 5 Best Cups of Coffee”

  • If one was coming from the perspective of a psychologist how is it possible to divorce the cake from the coffee? No matter how much you convince yourself the psychological evidence denies this?

    Surprised you had your usual fave Bang dowwn at #4 now? I like Caffiend mostly for the slightly alternative ambience. It’s also interesting how fast Silk has built a corporate clientele.

    What fascinates me is the different clientele as you wander along Grafton St. Could those business coffee meetings at Cocoa Amour ever compromise themselves to sit cross legged on the wall lounge at Caffiend?

    Good post!

  • Thanks for the compliments KS! Bang has been somewhat inconsistent of late, so that’s why it’s been demoted down to #4. I think it might be new baristas, but not completely sure. The dip has coincided with the opening of Bang @ Haven & Space, but that, of course, could be coincidental.

    Silk seems to be in a great spot for the corporates, and has really opened strongly. The coffee is very good there!

  • Great line up Nicky. I would also add the Gingerbread House (closed now!?), Billys @ Rustys and girls at Buzzaroma in Yorkeys

  • Oh I didn’t know Gingerbread House was closed. I will check tomorrow and let you know for sure.

  • Hey Nicky – great promotion – can we do one for the Tablelands??
    my favourite are all of the above and also “the Edge” and 12 BC and Piccolino

  • Hey Belinda – we should do one for the Tablelands, but I don’t know all the cafes so well. My favourite is Gallery 5. What’s yours?

  • Nick I reckon it is good but also like going to “The Coffee works” there is lots to look at and lots of chocolate as well!!!
    also the view from Skybury is great and Jaques is quirky – Titchum do serve a homely coffee as well !

  • Gingerbread House at City Place was open when I walked past today?

    What would be interesting would be the actual raw coffee supply and when it was roasted? There was a few years ago a local website with this by some guy posting on his JCU page but since gone methinks?!

    At Caffiend this weekend I was offered house or single blend with a roasting date on the board a few weeks ago. How much difference can the barista make relative to the coffee itself?

  • Hey KS – the barista makes all the difference! There’s a lot of variables to get right. Do an experiment and get the same coffee by two different baristas at the same coffee shop and you’ll see what I mean.

    That JCU page was maintained by an IT lecturer, Dr Phil Musimeci. He’s not at JCU anymore though, so that’s why the page is gone.

    Great to hear Gingerbread is still open. They make awesome shortbread!

  • Oh the barista makes all the difference!! Coffee making is an artform, and well worth attending a barista training session if you don’t think so!! I went to one at the TAFE, best 70 bucks I’ve spent in a long time! Certainly makes me appreciate a good barista and machine when you find one!!!

    I’m totally voting for Silk Caffe for a great coffee and yumbo food, followed closely by the team at Caffiend who I love long time. Certainly the space is fabulous at both of them for very different reasons!

    Dr Phil is still around the place = we can still find him if we need him!!


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  • Agree with TBC, Having a knowledgeable and skilled barista can make all the difference, you can have excellent beans but an inexperienced barista could ruin the coffee.

    For a good coffee I believe the 3 most important factors are:
    1) Quality of beans;
    According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, beans that score 80 points or above on a 100-pt scale are graded “specialty”
    These beans grow in ideal conditions, have little to no defects and have unique flavour profiles.
    Fresh is best, with most specialty coffee being no good after 3 weeks from roast date – commercial coffee from supermarkets may have been roasted more than 6
    months ago!!!

    With so many variables (grind setting, freshness and quality of beans, tamping leveling and dosing techniques) it is hard for each and every barista to become consistent.
    It does take years of practice and training to become considered ‘skilled.’
    A good barista will be extremely passionate and have extensive knowledge of coffee, from crop to cup and be able to extract the best flavours from a shot each time every time!

    3) Machine quality;
    Temperature and pressure control in the better machines – Synesso (Toscas and Bang), La Morzocco (Industry One and Silk) and Wega (Caffeined) make the world of difference, its also impossible to get silky milk from an awful machine no matter how skilled your barista!

    Drink up!!

  • Great post from Miranda! Informed & educated.

  • What about re:hab on Lake St? Coming from Melbourne I would say that their coffee is miles above anything I have ever had from Caffiend- single origin or blend. I drink a short mac and I wouldn’t even risk going anywhere else for my daily hit. I think you need to re-write this article.

  • Hey Andy re:hab has been pushing our coffee buttons lately too 🙂 We love the artwork on the short macs especially.

    This article was written back before they opened in Cairns… We’ll release a revised best 5 list in March 2012, good chance re:hab will be on it!

  • Enjoyed your posts and passion for coffee, if you get a chance come try campos coffee at frame espresso cheers Eddie

  • Try lagoon vue cafe on the esplanade, at the front of night markets, they sell campos coffee also, fantastic coffee and organic foods etc..


  • Hello Everyone, just moved to Cairns and i’m looking for a coffee shop that serves Namotto espresso. Found it once in Melbourne and i have been looking for it since.

  • I am a Chef (well ex chef) and a serious coffee fiend. I have only recently moved to Cairns from the Sunshine Coast and one of the first and most important items on my agenda was to source a great Coffee. I think that the emergence of a Coffee Culture in Cairns shows several things. 1. It is a very pleasing natural progression of the Food and Wine Culture. 2. It demonstrates that people are very well aware and educated now regarding what constitutes excellence and good value as opposed to sub standard garbage. 3. Our appreciation of quality and consistency in produce, acknowledgement of skill, dedication, training and knowledge. 4. The realisation that many factors have a direct influence over and produce vastly different results. 5. We can and will weed out inadequate pretenders and applaud the genuine. 6. Are still social creatures of Habit.

    For what it is worth, there are 2 types of coffee drinker. Those that have an appreciation for substance and those that care more about how they and the cafe look than what they are drinking.

    I have not tried all the coffee outlets in Cairns but right now, Caffiend would be hard to top.

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