Most cafes have a strong milk coffee bias. Maybe it’s because they can sell overly sweet flavouring; maybe it’s because it disguises poor beans and worse baristas. Who knows? Entire franchises have been built on the idea of selling milky sugary beverages that at some point might have involved coffee. Cafes that do good black coffee are far less common. Cafes that specialise in black coffee are even rarer.
Ltd espresso bar actually does seem to specialise in high quality black coffee. Located on Brunswick Street near Pie Face and Reverends Fine Coffee, the cafe is very much an espresso bar. There is no food menu and seating does not go far past a few stools. In fact you can say a lot about Ltd espresso bar by listing the things it does not do or have. There is no decaf, no soy milk, and Luke does not charge the same for a long black as he does for a flat white.
Fortunately I visited this cafe for the first time early in the morning, before they got busy, so I got to talk to Luke and found out a little more about the cafe. He runs three grinders, each with a different blend or single origin, with one for black coffee, another for milk and the third for filter. My long black was shortly followed by two more.
One of the things that Luke seems keen to accomplish is to get more people to try black coffee. Unsurprisingly there is a strong preference for milk coffees like a flat white or cappuccino over espresso, long black or americano (with even more people confused as to why there are two names for what is essentially a shot of coffee with some hot water added).
The coffee itself is really very good. Luke explained that he generally aims to time it so he is serving one lot of beans for about five to seven days, while it is at its peak. He alternates between different blends and single origins with each batch.
Ltd espresso bar is exactly what the name implies: an espresso bar. It is a place you go to buy good coffee and then leave, or buy good coffee, drink it reasonably quickly and then leave. And this works. Its emphasis on black coffee is, at least in my experience, fairly unique as well. This cafe is certainly worth going to if you care about coffee. If you are after a nice large breakfast however, you may be disappointed.
- Does very good coffee
- Rotating selection of single origin beans and blends
- Very keen on black coffee
- Takes quality seriously
Ltd espresso + brew bar
362 Brunswick st, Fortitude Valley