3 Little Birds Espresso

The 3 Little Birds logo, a detailed line-drawing of a feather above the words "3 Little Birds | Espresso & Creative Hub"When Amanda and I began our trip to Australia, we didn’t head for the coffee hotspots of Melbourne or Sydney, but instead found ourselves in Airlie Beach on the Queensland coast, 1,000 km north of Brisbane. Known as the gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, we’d come for the natural beauty rather than the coffee, so you can imagine my surprise when, strolling along the main street on our first evening there, I spotted a Slayer espresso machine in a window.

The Slayer in question belongs to 3 Little Birds Espresso, which combines coffee, art and gifts. Opened in November 2021 by Tracey, Joan and Pauline, it’s a friendly spot which showcases locally made products and produce across two linked spaces. 3 Little Birds offers a simple, espresso-based menu with the coffee coming from Queensland roaster, Ground Control. There’s also a selection of tea and hot chocolate, along with various shakes and smoothies. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are toasties and wraps, plus cakes, muffins and tarts for those with a sweet tooth.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • At the eastern end of Shute Harbour Road in Airlie Beach stands Pacific Place...
  • ... home to 3 Little Birds. There's a separate arts studio to the right, but we're interested...
  • ... in this bright, window-lined place on the left, home to 3 Little Birds Espresso.
  • Here's the view from just inside the door, where the counter runs down the right-hand siide.
  • The seating is all at the front of 3 Little Birds, starting with this round table in the window...
  • ... to the right of the door, while there's more seating in the windows to the left.
  • If you want chairs, these are your only option. Their backs to the window, they share...
  • ... the coffee table with the wooden sofa-bench in the corner.
  • The coffee table and sofa-bench in more detail. There's also a low bench to the right.
  • The view from the window, looking across the harbour to the peninsula beyond.
  • The counter runs down the right-hand side, but to the left is the other part of 3 Little Birds.
  • This is where you'll find various items for sale, showcasing local artists and producers.
  • There's a wide variety of products on display...
  • ... include on these shelves at the back.
  • However, there's more. A corridor-like extension at the back leads to another area...
  • ... where you'll find clothes for sale.
  • 3 Little Birds has gift cards and jewellery on display...
  • ... as well as some rather beautiful paintings.
  • This one is by JHunter Creations, one of the owners of 3 Little Birds.
  • Back in the main room, there are more works of art on the walls.
  • I was particularly taken by the 3 Little Birds logo.
  • To business. You order at the till, which is down the side of the counter, near the front.
  • Unusually, the menu is at floor level, rather than being on the wall.
  • The food is all in this glass display cabinet at the end of the counter.
  • It all looked very tasty, but we'd just had breakfast at our apartment.
  • Meanwhile, the coffee part of 3 Little Birds is at the front of the counter, where you'll find...
  • ... the Slayer espresso machine, which is what had first caught my eye the evening before.
  • Taliking of the espresso machine, there's a nice array of cups and mugs on top...
  • ... which were used for our flat whites on our first visit.
  • Amanda also had a flat white on our return two days later...
  • ... while I had an espresso, which is where I'll leave you.
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3 Little Birds Espresso is on the southern (inland) side of Shute Harbour Road, which runs through the heart of Airlie Beach. On the ground floor of Pacific Place, a modern, three-storey building at the eastern end of the main drag, 3 Little Birds has two units either side of the door to Fish D’Vine, a seafood restaurant and rum bar. The right-hand unit is an arts studio, which runs workshops and the like, while the coffee shop, which also acts as a gift shop (and a whole lot more), is to the left.

Continuing a theme from Singapore, 3 Little Birds Espresso is long and thin, with the door in the middle of the short side, flanked by windows on either side. These offer great views across the harbour to the wooded peninsula, although they are threatened by proposed high rise developments along the Airlie Beach foreshore. There’s limited seating outside, where three stools and two chairs shelter from the sun under a canopy projecting from the side of the building. There’s not much more seating in the cosy interior, where you can expect an enthusiastic welcome from the staff.

The front part of 3 Little Birds is, in effect, the coffee shop, with the counter on the right, set back from the window. The Slayer espresso machine is on the short side of the counter, facing the front, where it’s clearly visible through the window. If you like getting up close and personal with espresso machines, then I recommend grabbing a seat on the stool at the tall, round wooden table in the window to the right of the door.

The majority of the seating, however, is on the left, starting with a pair of chairs to the left of the door, their backs to the window. Next comes a wooden two-person sofa bench in the corner, along with a low stool (like those outside), all five seats sharing an old wooden cable drum which has been repurposed as a table.

You order down the side of the counter, while if you’re hungry, the various toasties, wraps, cakes, muffins and tarts, are displayed in a glass cabinet at the counter’s far end. By now, however, you’re very much into the other half of 3 Little Birds, with various items from local artists and producers arrayed on the counter top. Behind you, more items line the left-hand wall, while right at the back, a corridor-like extension runs back on the left-hand side, an Aladdin’s cave of locally-produced goodies. These include, but are not limited to, various paintings and other works of art, jewellery, cards and clothes.

Turning to the coffee, 3 Little Birds serves a standard espresso-based menu using Ground Control Roasters. On our first visit, we had a pair of flat whites, while on our return, during our last day in Airlie Beach, Amanda had another flat white, while I had an espresso. The Easy Rider blend is a touch darker than I’m used to, but combines very well with milk to produce a rich flat white, with classic chocolate notes. Meanwhile, as an espresso, it again exhibited a classic profile, rich, smooth and well-balanced. As good as the coffee was, however, the real draw is the friendly welcome, 3 Little Birds feeling like another home from home.

www.3littlebirdsespresso.com.au +61 (0) 403 187 408
Monday 06:30 – 15:00 Roaster Ground Control (espresso only)
Tuesday 06:30 – 15:00 Seating Sofa, Chairs, Table; Stools & Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 06:30 – 15:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 06:30 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 06:30 – 15:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 12:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain No Visits 24th, 26th April 2023

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