We head into the Brisbane CBD with limited frequency, and so had not heard about Three Beans Cafe until we received an invitation to visit. The CBD already having a plethora of cafes, we were intrigued to find out what was different.
Three Beans Cafe is located along Eagle Street, a stone’s throw away from Eagle Street Pier. On the ground floor of a tall office building (as many city cafes are), we saw the awning and seats outside before we spotted the name of the cafe, subtly nestled above the line of the awning.
We walked up to the main entrance, which had “Three Beans” again in simple and understated lettering next to the glass doors. A chalkboard A-frame sign at the entrance announced the special of the day, with a spark of humour.
Peering through the door, the service counter, with geometric-patterned honeycombed tiles, was the first thing that caught our eyes, then the espresso machine perched on it. Pendant lamps in navy blue and gold descended from the ceiling, punctuating the space. It was a look that was modern, but with a little flair.
We approached the counter, and were soon greeted by staff, then shown to a table in the outdoor area. The wooden floor made it feel like you were out on a deck. The awning above sheltered the space, and there were standing heaters to keep the chill of winter away. The white tabletops had the appearance of being slatted, and with the blue and white of the French-style cafe chairs they were paired with, gave it a coastal feel. (There weren’t actually gaps in the tabletops though, so the issue of things falling through the gaps was avoided.) At the tables were matte gold-coloured cutlery, adding a little warmth to the colour palette.
There was more seating indoors, where a navy blue wall offset the polished concrete floor, and tan-coloured padded seating along the wall was matched with compact white tables and light wood spindle chairs. Chill house-like music played at not too loud a volume.
The menus were waiting for us at the table, a single sheet printed on both sides, all day food options on a white background on one side, and drink options on a navy blue background on the other side. The menu states that they use RPCA approved free range chicken and eggs, and APIC (they probably mean APIQ) certified free range bacon and ham. They have a focus on healthy food, with a range of healthy bowls, besides burgers, wraps, and sandwiches, and more indulgent brunchy options like pancakes. We learned that they try to put a wholesome spin on all their dishes (that even includes the Reuben sandwich).
We settled on the Corn and zucchini fritters, and the Chicken burger. From their selection of dairy-free smoothies, we chose the Cocoa banana. And had caffeine too, of course.
After ordering at the counter, we returned to our table, from which we had a good vantage point to people-watch. That is true of most of the outside tables, really, and there were even a few bar-height chairs against the banister for those who wanted to do that while caffeinating and chilling. There was an intermittent hum from the traffic going by, but with the speed in the area limited to 40km/h, it wasn’t too noisy.
When the flat white arrived, the first thing we noticed was how fine the lines on the latte art leaf were. It made sense when we learned that their barista had been second in a latte art competition (we didn’t ask which one). Unsurprisingly, the microfoam on the flat white was textured just right. The coffee was smooth and strong, with no bitterness. The coffee fanatic of us rated their flat white as excellent, up there with a good Melbourne coffee.
The Cocoa banana had banana, peanut butter, cocoa nibs (they probably mean cacao), almond milk, coconut yoghurt, and honey. We had initially been a little wary of ordering it, as though the ingredients sound great, it can be easy to get the ratios wrong. In the past, we have had regretted ordering smoothies which had salty peanut butter in them, or proportionally far too much banana. Still, this had sounded too tempting to pass up. It arrived, beautifully garnished with coconut flakes, cacao nibs, and cheerily coloured flowers. It was nicely cold, and had the viscosity of a good thickshake. It had a natural floral flavour from the banana, and a nutty aftertaste from the peanut butter (not salty). There was a bit of crunch through it from ground up cacao nibs. It was not too sweet, so one might be able to believe that it was healthy. The fact that it was designed as a non-dairy smoothie meant that the flavour balance was delivered as intended. When one has a smoothie originally formulated as a dairy smoothie, but then has to replace the dairy component with a non-dairy milk or take the ice cream out, it changes the flavour and texture. This worked well as it was.
The Corn and zucchini fritters were listed on the menu as coming with a base of ancient grains, avocado, mixed herbs, and marinated fetta. They were prettily plated, the dark blue textured dish providing contrast against the golden brown fritters and the grain mix in green, yellow, and white. The fritters had crunch on the outside, and their nobbly appearance gave away the corn kernels that were abundant in the mix. When you bit into it, you could tell that it had a good amount of corn and zucchini, rather than being largely batter. The fritters were nicely seasoned, and also had a bit of a curry kick, without being overpoweringly spicy. The ancient grain base was not gritty, and had sweetness from the corn kernels and green peas. Altogether, it was a tasty dish that was filling without making one feel sluggish after eating it.
The Chicken burger was listed on the menu as being composed of chicken breast, swiss cheese, tomato, mixed leaves, avocado, onion with sweet chilli and garlic mayo, and a side of sweet potato fries. It looked like a neat burger when it came out, top bun glossy skinned and ingredients tidily contained rather than spilling out the sides as has tended to be the trend for the purposes of attention-grabbing food pictures. It had a mini frying basket of orange sweet potato fries with it, and a dish of mayonnaise for dipping (or possibly adding to the burger if you were so inclined). The burger buns were soft once you bit beyond that glazed skin, and were toasted for a little crispness on the surfaces. The chicken breast pieces were juicy and moist, and the swiss cheese had been melted onto it, so it melded nicely. There was a good amount of avocado in it as well, more than just token. The salad component of it was fresh as well. It was a good savoury mix, and it had enough of the sweet chilli and garlic mayonnaise that the components were tied together, without being sloppy. The sweet potato fries were a little crisp on the outside, and soft and that little bit squishy on the inside, as you expect sweet potato texture to be when cooked through. There were no burnt bits, and they had evidently worked out their cooking temperature and timing just right. Again, it was a satisfying, but not overly hefty meal.
The coffee was so good that we decided that we had to get another one to take away. The soy iced latte was a good strength and nicely chilled. It had good flavour, with berry and dark chocolate notes.
Staff were friendly and enthusiastic about the cafe’s food. We were well looked after on our visit.
Overall, we found Three Beans Cafe to be even better than we anticipated. Their website states that environmental sustainability and good animal welfare practices are important parts of their guiding principles. The other important thing though, is that they have managed to deliver delicious dishes. Their coffee should certainly earn them a reputation as a caffeination destination in the city as well. Some of the city crowd have already discovered it, as we found that when lunch hour hit, a line just appeared. From what we had, it was easy enough to see why. For tasty food that you can feel good about having, Three Beans is a good place to visit. (It is only open on weekdays though.)
Price point: Burgers $18. Sandwiches and wraps $11 to $13. Fritters $16. Healthy bowls $13.50 to $15.50. More breakfasty items $10 to $17.50 for things more substantial than toast or muesli.
Value: Pretty good.
Address: Ground floor,145 Eagle St, Brisbane CBD
Phone: 0415 719 185
Website: Three Beans Cafe