≡ Menu

A Tale of Two Coffee Shops

Coffee Shops abound in Brisbane. You can’t cross a street or turn a corner without seeing a new venue that has popped up. Of course, it’s an extremely competitive market. Recently, there’s been a caffeine rush of coffee shops opening in the streets around where I work. Let’s visit two and see what’s on offer…

Battery Station
When I read that Battery Station was opening right opposite where I worked, I was gleeful at the proposition of decent coffee and food only a stone’s throw away. I charted renovation progress every day as I got off the bus. I Googled them, looking for a website or opening date. I stood at the window and looked over as the last lick of paint was added. Finally, in January, the day came. I got off the bus and rushed in to order a coffee. It took an eon for the two staff to take and make my coffee order but it was early days and I had caffeine.

Battery station trio

I visited again a week later with a colleague. We ordered bacon and egg and, tofu scramble wraps and went the spacious courtyard out the back. Decorated with bespoke graffiti and shade sails, an effort has been made to make it appealing and to encourage you to linger. A little bit over the top for my tastes but a quiet spot to relax. Not many people around though. Our meals and coffee took a while but we were in no hurry. The wraps were very large and freshly made. The cheese in my bacon and egg wrap was an excellent vintage cheddar and really lifted the dish. The tofu scramble was a welcome option for my vegan friend. I visited a third time after a particularly big evening and again opted for a coffee and bacon and egg wrap, this time takeaway.

Battery Station Graffiti wrap

The staff are friendly, the food is fresh, the pace of service has definitely improved and yet there’s something about Battery Station that leaves me feeling hollow. There’s the cool conversion from Art Deco garage to cafe, a shady courtyard and coffee but it seems to fall a bit flat at present. The menu could definitely do with some tweaking, to offer some interesting alternatives or unusual flavour combos. I suppose a safe menu is a good option if they aren’t queuing at the door, as it reduces wastage. I can’t help wondering if the reason why people aren’t queuing at the door though, is because the menu is safe. It’s like there’s a groovier café in there trying to fight its way out but it can’t attract a crowd or get the vibe quite right.

Battery Station Interior

Battery Station is licensed and I know that they have had some live music evenings so maybe outside business hours, there’s a thriving scene. I want to like the Battery Station. I really do. And yet… it remains handy for a coffee on the way to work but I’m still in the takeaway rather than dine in camp. I’ll continue to visit and see how it evolves.

Battery Station
608 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley  Qld  4006

Visited: Various days – Breakfast Service

Battery Station on Urbanspoon

Johnny Brown’s
Speaking of coffee on the way to work, I have formed a new habit. I noticed with interest from the bus on my way into work each day, a new venue opening at the other end of the Valley. It turned out to be a new coffee shop – Johnny Brown’s. Conveniently located at a bus stop, one day I hopped off to take a look and thus, the pattern was set. If I am in town for a full week, I get off the bus on a day I don’t have an early meeting and stop in at Johnny Brown’s for a really excellent cup of coffee. None of this takeaway cup, rushing off to work business. I order, take a seat and read my book as they make a deliver my mug of ‘Poets Blend’ coffee, commissioned from Di Bella.

Johnny Brown barista 2

On my first visit to JBs, they had only a tiny seating area with a few stools and an old leather couch. The barista told me they were renovating out the back, behind the curtain and eventually it would be a bar in the evening. On my next visit, the curtain had been moved further back and the seating area had been expanded a little with a few more chairs and a couple of tables. A mini gallery had sprung up with local artwork on display. The next visit saw the introduction of the ‘Rustic Menu’ with a range of wraps and sandwiches on offer as well as a couple of salads. The nutty cheese (I suspect Jarlsberg) and ham toasted was more than a mouthful and at $6, an utter bargain. A great breakfast option. My last visit was in the very slow week between Easter and ANZAC day so I was forced to submit to a takeaway Portuguese custard tart. Someone had to do it. The tarts and in fact, all of the sweets, are made by owner John’s mum. On Monday as I went past on the bus (of course), I saw John’s mum delivering the custard tarts to the shop in a enormous plastic container. She could at least drive the extra few hundred metres and deliver some to my desk.

Johnny Brown TrioWhat lies behind the red curtain is still a mystery for me as I’ve not been back since the ‘reveal’ but I have heard it’s a small bar and kitchen with tapas style dishes and live music in the evening. Given the foot traffic I have seen in the mornings, no doubt this will be quite a buzzy little place in the evening.

Johnny Brown’sJohnny Brown toasted
138 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley  Qld  4006

Visited: Various days – Breakfast Service

Johnny Brown's on Urbanspoon

So there you have it – a tale of two coffee shops. Both in the same suburb. Both opened in the same time frame. Both vying for the same crowd. For the moment though, on different paths.

10 comments… add one
  • Monika May 7, 2014, 11:41 am

    I’m interested in having a toasted Sanger & coffee now.

  • David May 7, 2014, 11:44 am

    Is Battery not hip enough? The locations not hip enough? It doesnt have enoungh beards and ear-rings? Or is it just no parking perhaps?

    • Fiona Ryan May 7, 2014, 1:20 pm

      Hipsters have bikes – they don’t need cars. Surely you know that! I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just a bit confused. I hope they can make a go of it.

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook May 7, 2014, 12:01 pm

    mmmmm I love a good cheese and ham toastie. And good coffee. It’s rare I regret working from home, but posts like this do make me reconsider…

    • Fiona Ryan May 7, 2014, 1:21 pm

      That sandwich was great. It was very big so I took half to work for lunch. I think working from home might still have a few charms…

      • Mel @ The cook's notebook May 7, 2014, 1:28 pm

        well, yes it does. such as my current attire of trakkie daks and a hoodie. The only reason I’m not still in my PJs is because I had to duck out to Aldi earlier today!

        • Fiona Ryan May 7, 2014, 6:55 pm

          If you had a onesie you could cover both angles – home AND shops!

  • Accredited Sails March 3, 2015, 6:24 pm

    due to my job, it requires me travelling a lot on road, I have had chance to try those shops, I usually stop by to get some quick lunch and coffee, love the atmosphere, but the downside of those shop is parking. Its never easy to get park spot during the day.

    • Fiona Ryan March 4, 2015, 12:04 pm

      Yes – parking can be a pain. Particularly at Johnny Brown’s. You can always park in the Homemaker Centre just opposite Battery Station if you are dropping in for lunch or coffee. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. cheers.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: