Pioneering specialty roaster Single O has opened its first Brisbane coffee bar in Newstead
For many coffee drinkers, the name Single O is synonymous with quality. The long-running Sydney-born roaster is known for its innovative and sustainable practices, with its Surry Hills cafe a pilgrimage destination for those seeking a top-notch from-the-source experience. This week, Single O opened its second-ever Australian cafe, lifting the cloche on a cosy coffee bar in Newstead. Equipped with a Queensland-first self-serve coffee-on-tap counter and boasting a tight menu of its Surry Hills favourites and pastries from Agnes Bakery, any latte lover should make a visit a priority this weekend.
This year marks 20 years of Single O. The Sydney-born specialty roaster is regarded by many jolt-juice lovers as one of Australia’s leading third-wave coffee producers – not only distributing exceptional coffee, but helping push the industry forward in areas of sustainability and science. Though it boasts a heaving wholesale portfolio spanning Australia’s east and south coasts (including Brisbane stand-outs like Gramps Cafe, Told You So and No Standing) Single O only runs two cafes of its own – its famed Surry Hills headquarters and a Tokyo flagship. Well, that was until Thursday August 31, when the roaster unveiled its first Queensland coffee bar on Austin Street in Newstead. It’s an exciting development for founders Dion and Emma Cohen, who’ve long measured growth via different metrics. “I think from the get-go we haven’t been solely driven by growth,” says Emma. “There’s a pioneering quality that’s been part of our purpose from day one, as well as sustainability and building a great community culture. I think the combination of those things has been our North Star.”
In addition to making good coffee, Single O has a reputation for innovation. Over the past 20 years, the team has developed everything from milk-dispensing systems and self-serve hot and cold coffee taps to climate-resilient coffee varieties and compostable drip coffee bags, sparking minor revolutions with every breakthrough. This pioneering spirit has cemented Single O as a first option for countless conscientious coffee drinkers, a growth that’s been gently propelled by a considered, product-first approach to business. “We’ve grown organically because we find our kind, and that’s an important part of our ethos and how we’ve naturally attract people,” says Dion. “This makes us not so commercial in some of our decisions, but holds true to our integrity and our brand and what people expect of us.” Nevertheless, Single O is beloved by many – it was only a matter of time until this popularity necessitated a more pronounced presence, particularly in Southeast Queensland.
Single O operates out of the cosy space previously occupied by Oliver James Coffee. Having already utilised an attached warehouse space as an education and training centre, Dion, Emma and the Single O crew saw taking over the cafe space as a no-brainer decision when the offer was put forward. A cosmetic refresh has been applied, with the site now boasting recycled plastic bar tops and stools by Defy Design, a wall mural by artist Gemma O’Brien (whose psychedelic work also features on Single O’s art bag series, a collage of which adorns an interior wall), ceramic cups by Malcolm Greenwood and hand-thrown plates by Kim Wallace Ceramics. Though more compact than its Surry Hills institution, the crew has sought to offer a similar top-flight experience. The Newstead haunt is equipped with a Queensland-first self-serve coffee-on-tap counter, which pours rotating single origin batch brews and a refreshing Oasis oat iced latte. The roaster’s signature Reservoir blend is on deck for espresso drinkers (dairy is supplied by Norco and plant-based milks by Alternative Dairy Company), alongside more single origins for espressos and long blacks. Brisbane’s own Allora Black is collaborating on a special coffee-infused gelato for Single O’s lauded affogatos, while Agnes Bakery is supplying a number of its popular pastry items. Some signature eats from Surry Hills have also made their way to Newstead, including the lemon and pepperberry chicken toastie, avocado toast topped with achiote cashew cheese and pickled fennel, and banana bread lathered in espresso butter. Cementing Single O’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Mallow Sustainability has also been engaged for circular waste.
Single O is now open to the public from Monday to Saturday, with retail coffee sales (everything from beans to Single O’s Parachutes) also available. Head to the Stumble Guide for more details.
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