Big Sur Coffee

9/107 Turpin Road, Labrador, Queensland

Carmel is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s got that old school charm oozing from its veins; its sleepiness slouched down the hill knowing that it’s arrived. Carmel doesn’t have to try to impress. It just IS.

Big Sur is almost there. Just south of Carmel, it’s a wild peninsula set apart from the frenzy of Silicon Valley, the death-defying tram cars of San Fran and the hip vineyards of the Napa.

Big Sur Coffee, similarly, is a step apart. Located midway along Turpin Road in Labrador, it’s not situated in known coffee territory, but in the wilds of suburbia.

In a simple fit out featuring a huge photo of Big Sur (the wild side), ply tables freshened with fresh native flowers, and Bentwood chairs, on the surface this may seem little more than a suburban store. But it’s not!

In the wilds it may be, but so much the better for knowledgeable travellers. Who would want to battle parking issues when you can enjoy a great coffee and food to go from a known restaurateur?

Matt Cossens, who founded Niche Espresso in Miami, has taken a punt on the darker side of town. After selling Niche in 2013, Matt and his wife travelled, before settling back on the coast to start a family. Seeing the opportunities in the ‘coast less explored’, Matt chose to use his contacts, begin slowly, developing his clientele from the coffee up.

It’s a Cleanskin Coffee Co blend from Brisbane (originally in use at Canteen), chocolaty with firm body, a hint of acid and a soft finish which slides down nicely. But if you ask for a double ristretto and it’s yours!

The coffees almost pour out the door as Matt wins the hearts of locals who park outside and grab coffee to go, but his skills do not stop there.

Matt uses his experience as a chef to work behind the scenes prepping food rather than bringing it in, making cinnamon-smothered doughnuts and morning buns from croissant dough, as well as muffins to place on the counter, Egg bombs to serve with toast (8), BLT with caramelised onion and parmesan cheese (10) and Burritos (8).

The food choices can be found on a small menu, with specials on the blackboard at the back of the shop – trial and error dining, the clientele and café owner acclimatising themselves to each other step by step.

The breakfasts are substantial with an edge of difference. Creamed corn with a poached egg is given some punch with a kick-ass green tomato and jalapeno relish (14). Served on a slice of sourdough, it’s a brekkie which becomes an instant favourite. Mushrooms scented with thyme are presented whole, topped with grana padano on sourdough. They’re moist and rich, great quality and cooked to perfection (15). Other diners order Eggs Bene (16), Matt’s version heaped up with crispy bacon – large enough to see you through to dinner.

There’s a full kitchen out the back, and we get the feeling that Matt has far more to show, given the chance. With affordable food, all home made, and great coffee, locals have fine cuisine brought to their doorstep, albeit in humble beginnings.

Big Sur doesn’t have to try to be hip or cool. It just IS.

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast

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