There’s something Tardis-like about Stairwell Coffee. Landed smack in the middle of ‘Asian Alley’, Surfers Paradise, its smart fire-engine red frontage and clear vintage branding stand out against the surrounding Babel-like confusion of hand-written signage and dishevelled shop fronts.
The Centre Arcade is one of the oldest and least aesthetic arcades in Surfers, commonly termed ‘Asian Alley’ for its cheap eateries, although some are quite renowned. They sit alongside hair and massage salons, tattoo parlours and internet cafés, frequented by tourists and locals alike. Slightly dodgy by night, it’s a well-used thoroughfare during the day and, as its name denotes, holding prime foot traffic realty as one of the main shortcuts between Surfers Paradise Boulevard and Orchid Avenue. Though it’s located under Black Coffee Lyrics, their opening hours don’t coincide, Stairwell covering the week day shift, BCL the funky nights.
Stairwell has landed its premises in an old storage space, previously a barber’s, housed under a staircase. It’s amazing what can be done with so little, both in space and money. Stairwell’s owner, Luke Allan, has decorated the space with eclectic ‘objets d’art’ and pictures, almost like a quirky teenager’s hideaway.
With no room inside the neat as a pin shop, Luke serves customers through his roller shutter window. The house blend is Espresso from Merlo, recently awarded Australia’s Favourite Coffee 2012. It’s a smooth, easy drop for a daily coffee. There’s also a single origin coffee on offer, changing fortnightly for variety, or you can choose from a range of Twinings teas.
“Most of my trade is takeaway,” Luke tells me. “They’re are on their way somewhere or on a coffee break from work.” I notice that there are a few tables in the quiet of the arcade, but most customers order and leave, cup in hand, moving out into the fray. Even Luke’s warm service can’t stop the traffic flow. It’s the week day force of motion in the urban jungle, the demand of the Time Lords.
The food’s to go as well: Jaffles, bagels, slices, cookies, and the ever popular doorstop raisin toast…all under $10… the best swipe many will get at a fast breakfast!
Stairwell’s one of the smallest coffee shops on the Coast, so what makes it stand out?
“We offer friendly fast service, make a great coffee that’s an alternative to the franchises, so stop by and say hello,” says Luke with a smile, his easy charm about as loveable as The Doctor himself! I peel myself away from the telephone box to face the sunlight.
Shop 67, The Centre Arcade, 3131 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise Ph: 0449 976 707
Open Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4.30pm; Sat 7.30am – 12noon