“Great coffee, tasty toasties and pastries, and friendly vibes.”
The latest hidden gem on the northern Gold Coast is Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee, the small café with lots of heart.
After serving coffee in some of the coast’s best cafés for years, barista Kevin Gatti knew what he and his wife Emma would place value on in their own establishment.
“Firstly, we wanted it to be a local place with specialty coffee,” Kevin tells us. “We wanted people to feel that they were coming to dine in our own kitchen, where we could get to know our customers and greet them by name,” he adds.
Believing that there was room for growth in the specialty coffee scene on the northern Gold Coast, they sought a premises. He recalls driving over the hill into Santa Barbara, experiencing the thrill of discovery of such a great little enclave with its tiny clutch of shops. Kevin and Emma immediately knew that this was the place they would like to be.
It’s the same feeling we felt when we discovered the tiny village of Santa Barbara, Sanctuary Cove’s shy sister, the secret suburb unknown to most coast dwellers. Looking out from the café’s verandah to the boat ramp and across the Coomera River, it’s easy to see why the couple fell in love with the spot.
Emma and Kevin have decked out the café in simple white, with coloured cushion-clad banquettes and pops of greenery adding character to the L-shaped dining space. The back part of the restaurant is the ideal gathering place for small groups of friends. Its positives are the private serenity it affords with ten people sitting around the ‘kitchen’ table, inexpensive tasty food and coffee, the staff’s friendly vibe and plenty of parking nearby.
The couple have chosen Brisbane speciality roasters Coffee Supreme as their brew of choice, the roastery favoured for their work with small growers. Using their ‘Five Star Day’ for espresso and ‘South’ blend served with milk, for interest they run a rotating single origin roast, the velvety toffee Colombia La Morelia when we visited. They also sell beans to take away. Besides coffee, you can select from a range of Love Tea and Harvest St cold-pressed juices as well.
If you can make it past the counter, you’re a stronger person than most! In the display cabinet you’ll find croissants and pastries from Fuel Bakehouse, delectable chocolate-oozing cookies from Gold Coast Cookies, and bread from Burleigh Baker.
This winter, Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee branched out from their opening menu of toasties to include all of our favourite brunch eats from 7am until 1pm daily.
Some of the standouts in this menu are the Big Brekky Burger with the usual suspects plus delicious haloumi chips, a very pretty Avo toast with all the extras, and of course a great Eggs Bene amongst others.
If you choose the Brioche French Toast topped with lemon myrtle curd, seasonal fruits and vanilla Persian fairy floss, your sweet tooth will be truly satisfied.
My favourite? The Goodness Bowl with a medley of roast local seasonal vegetables with halloumi chips, mixed quinoa, maple balsamic glaze, basil infused oil and (my choice of protein) a poached egg. Oh my goodness! This is a beautiful dish.
But hang around a bit, because you can’t miss out on one of the core menu items, toasties. They may sound simple, but believe me these are the most luxe versions of the dish we have seen. Made to order, each of the five toasties on offer comes matched with its own dipping sauce, sauces made fresh daily.
The Chicken Pesto Toastie boasting succulent chicken breast, with roasted capsicum and cheddar sandwiched between slabs of Burleigh Baker sourdough is one of the crowd’s favourites. It’s served with grated parmesan and a pesto mayo dipping sauce.
We can never go past a great Reuben, the corned meat accompanied by sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing in thick-cut sourdough, a pot of Thousand Island dipping sauce on the side.
The Ham and Cheese Toastie has been the most popular until now, with ham and Swiss cheese piled into garlic-buttered sourdough, a Dijonnaise dipping sauce adding a mustardy bite.
The vegetarian option is the Four Cheese oozing Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar, with parmesan grated on top accompanied by BBQ aioli dipping sauce.
Last but by no means least is the umami-laden Mushroom and Mozzarella Toastie, its Fable pulled barbecue shiitake mushroom meat paired with roast capsicum and mozzarella, the toasted sandwich coming with chipotle mayo dipping sauce. It’s a ripper!
There are a few other menu items (such as a granola bowl and sourdough crumpets with roast macadamia honeycomb butter), but the toasties are epic enough to demand our full attention. Accompany one with your favourite coffee and you’re sorted.
Small in stature, big on flavour, and highly recommended by the ‘taste testers’, Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee is casual destination dining at its best. Your only problem will be choosing which toastie to order. So, best bring a friend so you can share two with no FOMO. This cafe is well worth seeing out.
Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee, 7 – 9 Pinnaroo St, Hope Island QLD 4212, Open: Tuesday – Sunday til 1pm. Menu from 7am. Coffee from 6am. Closed Mondays.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee.