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When moving to a new place, a big part of the fun is exploring: finding new places to shop, eat grab coffee, or have a beer.

But it’s always nice to have a guide to get you started. When it comes to cafes on the Gold Coast, you’re so spoiled for choice it’s good to know some of the highlights to kickstart you settling in.

Australia is renowned for fancy breakfasts and great coffee – they’ve even exported this noble tradition to New York City! The Gold Coast is packed with creative cafes where you can get breakfast, brunch, lunch, or all three accompanied by delicious barista-made coffee.

So, if you’re moving to the Gold Coast and want the low-down on where to grab your morning coffee or your Sunday brunch, read on! We could only cover a few of our favourites here, but cafe-hopping is another Australian custom, so we’re sure you’ll discover more!

Commune Espresso - boho chic

Burleigh Heads is famously the funkiest suburb on the Gold Coast, and the funky heart of Burleigh might just be Commune Espresso.

The cafe is run by two locals who care about their community and environment. Commune is designed to do just what the name implies – create a space for locals to meet, get caffeinate, discuss ideas, make friends, and commune with each other.

To help keep conversations flowing, there are free refills on filter coffe all day on Fridays. If conversation runs dry, there’s a ping pong table set up in the courtyard most days.


The cafe is filled with eclectic furniture – think retro lounge chairs and old bar stools – and the walls are plastered with archaeological layers of event posters. The place has a distinctly bohemian vibe that makes you feel relaxed and at home as soon as you walk in.

Then, of course, there’s the great espresso coffee and the vibrant menu with highlights such as:

  • Corn frittatas with house-made chilli jam
  • Acai bowls for the health nuts
  • Quinoa, apple, and flaxseed porridge
  • Zesty snapper and avocado fish burgers

Commune Espresso is open every day of the week from 6:00 am-3:30 pm.

Daark Espresso – specialty coffee pioneers

Wander over to the northern suburb of Chirn Park and you’ll find the ever-bustling Daark Espresso. This cafe did pioneering work bringing specialty coffee to the Gold Coast, and you’ll find a little taste of Melbourne when you walk inside.

From boutique coffee blends to an amazing breakfast and lunch menus – all served up by super friendly staff – Daark Espresso has everything you could ask for in a cafe. As well as tasting great, the food and coffee are always presented beautifully, so don’t forget to Instagram your first visit!

Menu highlights include:

  • Smashed avocado and Persian feta
  • Southern fried chicken and Belgian waffles with bacon, Canadian maple syrup and whipped vanilla butter
  • Korean pork burger pulled pork w/ bulgogi sauce, house slaw and kimchi on a toasted milk bun

Daark is open every day of the week from 6:30-3:00 pm.

The Cardamon Pod – vegan bliss

This cafe in Southport believes in spreading health and happiness with their food. The Cardamon Pod has a definite hippy philosophy and they say they cook every meal with love and in “a jubilant mood”!

There’s no meat on offer at The Cardamon Pod – in fact, none of the food contains animal products – but the dishes are so delicious they’ll convert even the most hardened carnivore! You can get cow’s milk for your coffee, though, and they also have a huge range of non-dairy milk on offer.

Their menu features very creative takes on some cafe favourites, such as:

  • Pumpkin pie pancakes – these feature honeycomb and native wattle cashew cream, plus a homemade version of Nutella, seasonal fruit, and gingerbread ‘soil’
  • Indian street food waffle – this is a spinach pakora waffle loaded with roast pumpkin, potato peanut fritter, beetroot-coconut yoghurt raita, and other Indian treats
  • Superfoods crepe – a crepe filled with healthful sweets like homemade pear sorbet, rhubarb and apple compote, caramelised walnuts, and lemon myrtle coconut cream whip!

They also offer unique ‘smoothie bowls’ featuring ingredients like a vegan take on Snickers bars (peanut butter, anyone?), salted caramel, mango mousse, and so much fresh fruit.

The Cardamon Pod is open every day from 7:30 am-4:30 pm but make sure you get in before the kitchen closes at 3:30!

Background (Barista) – pure luxury

Background (Barista) is a favourite cafe for Mermaid Beach locals with a focus on excellent coffee, generous meals made from local produce, and mysterious (parentheses).

At Background, you’ll find rotating summer and winter menus to keep things fresh (and seasonal). The crew at this cafe also put a lot of emphasis on execution and presentation. Every meal will be perfectly prepared – bacon crispy, halloumi bouncy, burgers juicy – and presented with artistic flair.

Coffee is also very serious business at Background. As well as passionate and highly trained (baristas), there’s a technological edge with an i-milk dispenser, temperature-controlled water heaters, and delicate scales to make sure each cup is perfect.

Menu highlights include:

  • Zucchini halloumi (fritters) – crispy, cheesy treats served with a poached egg, kale, chill, fresh herbs, and more
  • Bacon and egg (roll) – a cafe classic upgraded with spinach, kale-aioli (kaioli), and ‘wife-made’ chutney
  • Coconut porridge with organic quinoa, strawberry and banana, coconut, and Canadian maple (syrup)

Background (Barista) is open 6:00 am-4:00 pm Mon-Fri and 7:00 am-3:00 pm on weekends.

The Milkman’s Daughter – a cafe that cares

Another treat for vegetarians, The Milkman’s daughter features a diverse, delicious menu of meat-free meals served up at one of the most beautiful cafes on the Gold Coast.

The aesthetic pleasures of The Milkman’s Daughter really can’t be overstated – the cafe features pristine whitewashed walls with vibrant pops of green provided by indoor plants. The architecture is unique too, you can sip your coffee or enjoy your meal within intimate alcoves reminiscent of a monastery.

The coffee is delicious and sometimes comes with little Platonic ‘love notes’ from the staff. On top of how great the place looks, the food is outstanding. Even if you usually eat meat, you won’t miss it here with menu highlights such as:

  • Herb-infused smashed avocado with thick-cut toast, Danish fetta, poached eggs, and chilli
  • Chilli bean nachos
  • Corn fritters with coconut chutney
  • Lemon ricotta pancakes

The Milkman’s Daughter is open 6:00 am- 2:30 pm Wed-Fri and 7:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekends.

Cubby Bakehouse – baguettes on the river

If you prefer your cafes packed with bread and baked goods, then Cubby Bakehouse is for you!

This one is more of a day trip – it’s actually just south of the New South Wales border, on the Tweed River in a town called Chinderah, but Gold Coast locals claim it as their own.

Cubby Bakehouse specialises in baguettes. The owners spent a lot of time in Paris, eating their way through the local bakeries and training with French bakers. They even imported a special oven from France to bake them to perfection.

That’s where tradition ends though, as they serve up innovative baguettes packed with eggs benedict, smashed avo, or Banh Mi!

There’s also a mouth-watering selection of baked goods to be had, from melt-in-your-mouth vanilla slice to salted caramel and rye brownies.

Other menu highlights include:

  • The FRANK – free-range American-style frank with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup in a soft Japanese milk bun
  • Sweet sweet baggie bits – French toast baguette dipped in house-made vanilla custard, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and served with fresh cream and authentic maple syrup
  • Karaage chicken Banh Mi – sizzling traditional Japanese Karaage, kewpie mayo, Cubby teriyaki, fresh coriander, and chilli on a house-baked baguette

Cubby Bakehouse is open for coffee seven days a week from 5:30 am-3:00 pm, with food between 7:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Burleigh Co-op – fresh produce in rustic surrounds

For our last pick, we’re going back to Burleigh Heads and the cooperative community cafe called simply Burleigh Co-op.

The team at Burleigh describe themselves as a cafe by the people, for the people. The cafe is a joint effort by local business such as Hotel Miami, Granddad Jacks, Fingers and Bones Catering, Ellki Blue Jewellery, and The Lost Boys Barbershop who all came together to create a welcoming community cafe.

The cafe operates out of a rustic shed made from corrugated tin and raw wood, and the menu changes seasonally to support sustainability and local food producers.

There’s an all-day breakfast menu (very important!), piping hot coffee, and a laid-back atmosphere that encourages people to feel at ease and strike up conversations.

The menu has a lot of highlights but here are a few of our faves:

  • The Bun – a bun from a local bakery stuffed with crispy bacon, a fried egg, leafy greens and avocado mayonnaise
  • Zucchini waffles with spice-fried potatoes, flashed spinach, and fried eggs, plus fresh coriander, spring onion, and lime
  • Angus beef burger with sticky onions and aged cheddar
  • Falafel fritters garnished with pickled red cabbage, caraway seeds, turmeric cauliflower hummus, and barley tabouli

Burleigh Co-op is open every day from 6:00 am-2:00 pm.

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