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Locals guide to the best coffee in the Cairns CBD

From short macs and piccolos to cold brews and cappuccinos, this is Tropic Now's guide to the best coffee spots in the heart of Cairns.


Some people in Cairns like it steaming hot. Others prefer it when their cup runneth over with milky foam.

Most still go for tried, tested and traditional favourites, while an increasing number of connoisseurs lean towards smaller, more cosmopolitan variations.

Whatever your choice of coffee might be, the Cairns CBD has you covered.

Such is the prevalence and quality of cafes in the five or so blocks in the centre of Cairns, some are even calling our city the little Melbourne of the north.

Our panel of local experts - or coffee addicts as the case may be - did the hard yards and sampled the very best coffee the city has to offer.

Here’s our list of the best, in no particular order. 


Cruze Coffee

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.6 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: 105 Grafton St

FAVOURED BY: Rusty’s Markets shoppers, office and retail shop workers, backpackers, locals in the know

GO THERE FOR: The big, warm personality of owner Gilberto Risa - or Gil for short - and his vibrant staff. High quality and range of coffee beans (over 30 different beans) on offer. Grab a take home bag of ground coffee or beans while you’re there.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"Best coffee shop I have ever been to. Happy friendly staff, free hot chocolates for the kids but all in all I love the variety of coffees. Staff more than happy to mix and match for something different. Will definitely be back." - Leanne Hallam on Facebook

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 7.8/10

FACEBOOK: 4.9/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 5/5

ZOMATO: Not rated


Caffiend

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.41 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: Shop 5, 78 Grafton St

FAVOURED BY: Creative types, foodies, backpackers, laneway explorers

GO THERE FOR: The amazing and ever-changing aerosol art on the laneway wall, delicious breakfasts and lunches, cold-drip coffee and owner Oliver James' intricate knowledge of all things caffeine.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"All men are created equal. Food however is not. My only regret in life is that i do not have 12 hands to give this place 12 thumbs up. Food sculpted as if by the very hands Zeus himself; Amazing. Flavours as deep and as vibrant as a Yo Gabba Gabba episode. The legal liquid crack that they serve as coffee. Amazing. Outstanding." - Paul Cockrem on TripAdvisor, October 2014

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 8.5/10

FACEBOOK: 4.6/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 4.5/5

ZOMATO: 4.3/5


Sing Sing

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.83 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: 82C Lake St

FAVOURED BY: CBD office and retail workers, laneway explorers, hipsters

GO THERE FOR: The new kid on the Cairns CBD coffee scene. Part of the ongoing refurb of 'The Walk' Laneway off Lake St. Baristas care about making the perfect cup. Love the breakfast of chia seed soaked in coconut and almond milk with blackberry and mango and Sing Sing's house made granola.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"Great little retro cafe in an alley, away from the noise. Great place to bring your laptop and work for a while, great coffee, great guys to serve it. Highly recommended." - antclaire on Beanhunter in November 2015

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 9.3/10

FACEBOOK: 5/5

TRIP ADVISOR: Not rated

ZOMATO: Not rated


Silk Caffe

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.16 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: Cnr Spence and Sheridan Sts

FAVOURED BY: Lawyers, police, public servants and court staff, as well as delegates attending conferences at Cairns Convention Centre

GO THERE FOR: Tasty and well-priced lunch snacks (especially the salads), friendly staff, and for the sweet (and brave) tooth...Nutella Ice Coffee made with a double ristretto, milk and Nutella and bottled daily instore.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE: 

"Great coffee!!!! Lovely bean with nutty tones. Probably my favourite coffee in cairns at the moment. Just disappointed they are not open on weekends. Highly recommend a coffee here." - Tim K on Beanhunter in June 2015

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 7.5/10

FACEBOOK: 5/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 4.5/5

ZOMATO: 3.4/5


The Chamber Room

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.95 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: Suite 43-47, Village Lane, 20 Lake St

FAVOURED BY: Office workers, serious coffee drinkers, cold drip filter aficionados

GO THERE FOR: A hardcore coffee experience of the best possible kind.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE: 

"If you are a fuss pot with your coffee experience, this is the place for you. Love that it is an 'adult's only' espresso and brew bar (no babycino's or syrups here)." - Drsoandso on Trip Advisor in February 2016.

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 9.7/10

FACEBOOK: 5/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 5/5

ZOMATO: NA


Bang & Grind

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.08 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: 8/14 Spence St

FAVOURED BY: CBD office and retail workers, tourists on their way to the Esplanade, business people in meetings, Johnathan Thurston

GO THERE FOR: Friendly staff. Anti-snobbery coffee service. The chance to spot a footy legend. Informal business meetings. The Fizzy Back Slap - a kind of carbonated cold coffee with plenty of kick. 

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"Selections of coffee good and one of the best short macs I've had in a long time. Bacon and egg panini very tasteful. This place has improved, one of the best in Cairns." - R. Friedrichs on Beanhunter in August 2015

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 7.0/10

FACEBOOK: 4.6/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 4.5/5

ZOMATO: 3.7/5


Blackbird Espresso

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.88 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: Shop 13/Oceana Walk, 62 Grafton St

FAVOURED BY: Coffee lovers, visitors from Melbourne and Sydney, Cairns Taipans players

GO THERE FOR: Supreme coffee knowledge and expertise. Arcade ambience. Healthy snacks and treats. We love the "Magic" - a sort of 3/4 flat white.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"Simply the best coffee I've had in a long time! Strong espresso, bitter chocolaty notes, Bonsoy empress milk, definitely exceeded expectations! What it lacks in location (inside mall/arcade), it makes up for with impeccable, friendly service, quiet tunes and lovely decor that includes lovely bill poster photos of the owner and his family. And again, the coffee doesn't disappoint!." - Benji23 on Beanhunter in November 2015

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 9.3/10

FACEBOOK: 5/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 5/5

ZOMATO: Not rated


Shop 3 Coffee & Tea

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.85 OUT OF 5

LOCATION: Cairns Square, 42 Abbott St

FAVOURED BY: Locals in the know, tourists venturing off the Esplanade

GO THERE FOR: The blends made from Golden Bean Award winners The Coffee Roaster Brisbane. Art exhibitions on the walls. Lunch salads. Excellent cold drip coffee.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE:

"Having started a new job in Cairns CQU I was so glad to find a fantastic cafe within walking distance from my new job. Ticks all my boxes. Food tick, Price tick, Service tick, Coffee tick tick tick." - crematorim on Beanhunter in September 2015

SCORES

BEANHUNTER: 9.1/10

FACEBOOK: 5/5

TRIP ADVISOR: 5/5

ZOMATO: Not rated


Other hot spots for coffee in and near the Cairns CBD

There are a range of other coffee providers in and around the Cairns CBD who don't quite fit into their own category, but they're all worth checking out.

Rusty's Markets:

Features some of the city's best coffee from Friday to Sunday, including Billy's Coffee, Barista Sista, The Coffee Works and iced Vietnamese coffee specialist Annee's Caphe. While not technically part of Rusty's, you can get a tasty cup from Refuge Clothing, which is on Grafton St right next to the entrance to Rusty's.

CBD food joints with great coffee:

While technically more popular for their food than coffee, local spots such as Candy, Paleo Cafe, Perrotta's and re:hab serve a mean cup of caffeine in their own right.

Close to the CBD:

Some of the city's best coffee is found just beyond the boundaries of the CBD.

Best picks include Ten One Twenty at Edge Hill, Smith St Cafe just off Sheridan St heading out of town, Mama Coco's on Aumuller St (awesome dinners here too), Frame on McLeod St, Industry One on Scott St, Flying Monkey on cnr of Sheridan and Upward Sts and Ozmosis on Collins St, Edge Hill (across from Ten One Twenty!)

Needs improving:

If there is one gripe about coffee in the Cairns CBD, it relates to the quality on offer at local restaurants.

While we love the food they serve, you'd be hard pressed to find the same level of coffee knowledge and expertise in local restaurants as you'll find in the coffee outlets and cafes listed above.


Did we miss something?

The cafe scene is always changing. So if there's a new addition to the CBD coffee lineup, please let us know by clicking here.