Ipswich’s contemporary café culture

Looking for a cafe to visit this weekend? Here's five outstanding ones to check out.
10 Jun 2021
Denise Cullen, Photojournalist

Ipswich is blessed with abundant cafes and a thriving café culture. New entrants like St. Shoebill, through to more established players like Rafter & Rose, all have something unique to offer. No matter whether you’re wanting to grab something on the run, or looking for a more substantial sit-down meal, you’re sure to find a cup of joe and tasty menu to tempt you.

St Shoebill

St Shoebill scrambled eggs

Situated in a prime position on Brisbane St, in the Top of Town precinct, St. Shoebill sashayed onto the café scene towards the end of 2020.

The team, led by owners Sam and Kim Ladson, quickly gained a reputation for great coffee, featuring Canberra’s Ona coffee, an influential player in the speciality coffee industry.

The interior is hip industrial chic and the fresh, all-day menu features modern Australian and South East Asian influences, with dishes ranging from eggs benedict and potato rosti to okonomiyaki and bibimbap. St. Shoebill has an enticing shelf display featuring coffee, hot chocolate, tea, muesli and other products for those who’d like to take their discoveries home.

Don’t miss: The Hitman blend of Ona coffee will slay you with its knock-out punch and notes of caramel, malt, nut and spices. The coffee art here is pretty special too.

St Shoebill window

Screamin’ Beans

Screamin Beans loaded eggs

Screamin’ Beans at Springfield has been around for only a couple of years, but has already garnered a loyal following.

At first glance it looks like a small, hole-in-the-wall establishment, but with generous seating that spills out onto the footpath, Screamin’ Beans offers a relaxed, expansive air.

The menu offers breakfast hard-to-beat classics such as homemade granola and waffles, with a few edgier options such as loaded eggs (poached eggs, potatoes and spinach topped with lashings of hollandaise sauce). Lunch options are all here too, including chicken and vegetable burgers and Turkish open grills. Screamin’ Beans get top marks for its friendly, accommodating staff too.

Don’t miss: The new kabana dog featuring grilled kabana, bacon, onions and capsicum served with mustard, ketchup and a mayo sauce. The toasted croissants here are worth a whirl as well.

Screamin Beans croissant

Dancing Bean Roastery

Dancing Bean Old Seadog latte

The Dancing Bean Roastery has been around for five years, so it’s not exactly new, but because it’s tucked away down a little lane off Brisbane St, you could say it’s been flying under the radar. There’s a café with indoor and outdoor deck seating, run by Tanaya Mahony, and a roasting and wholesale business out the back, run by Carston Woodhouse.

The range of blends made here are sold as far afield as Sydney and Darwin. Especially popular is the full-bodied Ipswich Blend which Mahony describes as “smooth, a little bit punchy, very consistent, and tasty”. The standard menu runs the gamut of breakfast burgers and burritos, through to club sandwiches and ham and cheese toasties.

Don’t miss: The Old Sea Dog alcohol-infused range offers the flavour and aroma of your favourite spirits, including rum and bourbon, in a cup of coffee.

Dancing Bean

Cafe Kalina

Cafe Kalina raw beetroot slice

Established in 2019, Springfield’s open-air Café Kalina is part of the new Kalina Springfield housing estate. The café seating sprawls over a large undercover deck which effortlessly leads into a walkway and children’s playground area, complete with giant toadstool, making it popular with the sipper cup set. Café Kalina is also dog-friendly, with puppy-cinos and dog treats on offer.

A huge drawcard is the cooked-from-scratch menu featuring indulgent breakfast items such as French toast, bacon waffles, and zucchini mint and haloumi fritters. For lunch, there’s calamari, grilled fish, or rustic warm salad showcasing roasted pumpkin with mushrooms, feta, asparagus and more.

Don’t miss: The raw slices which taste as good as they look. I tried the raw beetroot slice, a delicate morsel which nailed just the right balance between earthy, sweet and light.

Cafe Kalina chai latte

Rafter and Rose

Rafter and Rose entrance

Like so many other venues, Rafter & Rose had a rough trot around the start of the pandemic, but fortunately it’s found its groove again. Walking into the café is a bit like entering a whimsical jungle, making it a perfect break from the everyday world outside.

Like the Dancing Bean Roastery, Rafter & Rose has been around a few years, but continues to attract new customers who can’t believe they’ve only just discovered the range of pastries and other baked goods on offer. These include sugar-dusted morning buns; pecan, chocolate and maple croissants; and fresh jam brioche doughnuts. Those with bigger appetites will also find breakfast and lunch items to love on the regular menu.

Don’t miss: There were flowering potted plants for sale on the day I visited, so customers could take a little of the café’s lush foliage home with them.

Rafter and Rose coffee
Denise Cullen Photojournalist
Denise Cullen is a Brisbane-based freelance photojournalist who has lived and worked in Athens, London and Kuala Lumpur. She writes about travel, food, agriculture, business and true crime – any subject really, except for golf. Visit her at www.denisecullen.com.au

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