So… Blackstar. A West End institution. A boutique coffee shop that started the Brisbane boutique self-sourcing, self-roasting and, for cold drinks, self-bottling trend. There are many gorgeous coffee houses in Brisbane but Blackstar has always stayed independent and different over the years. I first fell in love with bottled iced coffee- plain, black and soy are offered (I know to look for “my” label now). Although offering shade (which has been known to fall over in windy conditions causing hilarity. Well, I found it funny) and protection from the rain, the seating is outdoors and open to the elements. Mounted bar heaters and fans help things out, but you have to be prepared to be of the weather, which can make it unappealing in the height of summer. Luckily for Woodfordians, Blackstar often closes shop over New Years and heads to the weekend long Woodford Fold Festival (Australia’s biggest and I think the best). So you can patronise other air-conned cafes without guilt over the height of summer, but come back once poetry slams or other evening gigs occasionally kick in.
Breakfast quality has dropped off a little from what it used to be (Avo toast with ½ an avo with black olive tapenade and dukkah was to die to). Breakfast and Lunch are served with nice options, including vegan options, but let’s face it, you come here for the coffee. Over the last year, the sweetener in cold pressed coffee changed (from Maple to Blue Mexican Agave Syrup), which took a couple of bottles to get used to. Always a solid cup of coffee to be had. Still lovely people working there, still busy on weekends if you arrive too late. I’ve never encountered a surly barista or waiter there in all my time drinking there (about 4 years).
Order food or hot drinks during busy times and you used to be given a toy instead of a table number. This was FASCINATING and makes the time until you eat go very quickly, as time spent making your robot climb Ben’s shoulder and shoot the sugar bowl always flies by. Nowadays, expect a playing card, which is still cute and makes me break out in Red Queen quotes from Alice in Wonderland. Whatever passes the time…
This is one Brisbane institution that doesn’t rest on its laurels- it knows that coffee has to remain good in West End to keep customers coming back. If you’ve never been, wander down Vulture Street from the Vulture/Boundary intersection and at the Vietnamese bakery, hang a left onto Thomas and you can’t miss it. A sandwich board is always left out if it’s open. It’s a place with ambience, you can feel comfortable whether it’s packed or you’re the only one there and there’s consistent coffee and pleasant staff. Oh, and they have a cold drinks stall at the Davies Park Markets on Saturdays. What more could you want from a coffee house?
If you’re around, try it out this weekend.