The Travellers’ Series: The boutique Emerald cafes you should know

October 4, 2023
The funky, modern interior of Shelfield specialty coffee shop in Emerald, Queensland

When you wake up in a new place, locating a good cup of coffee – the nectar of the gods – is almost certainly at the top of the list. However, while Australia’s coffee culture is considered by many to be the best in the world, it’s probably not always synonymous with regional Queensland.  

Enter Peter Jeon, a former Sydney barista who came to Emerald for his wife’s teaching job 10 years ago and never left. After a few years working in a local Italian restaurant, Peter, captivated by the charm of the town, decided to stay and redefine the coffee culture in his new digs.

The Shelfield, the boutique Emerald café inspired by Melbourne’s laneway cafes

Peter opened his first boutique café The Shelfield, in 2017, sharing his love of specialty coffee with rural Queensland. The café quickly became a mecca for coffee enthusiasts, introducing the town to renowned roasters like Campos and indulgent delights such as Mörk Chocolate from Melbourne’s Mörk Cacao Artisans. 

Building on The Shelfield’s success, Peter opened The Sensory in 2018 – a spacious, child-friendly café designed to provide an immersive coffee experience, engaging guests with the different flavours and scents of coffee. The Sensory, is fitted out with on-trend farmhouse-style lighting and duck egg blue stack tiles with a La Marzocco espresso machine sitting pride of place on the front counter.

Local favourites at The Sensory include the single-origin cold brew which rotates monthly and caters to Emerald’s extreme temperatures, and house-made protein, honey and cinnamon bliss balls — a hit in this health-conscious community. The cafe’s menu boasts in-house baked treats, including homemade cakes, cookies, bliss balls, gluten-free slices, and toasties. 

While Peter has recently opened a Shelfield cafe in Toowoomba he’s unlikely to leave Emerald any time soon. Over the past 10 years living in the ‘Gateway to the Outback’ Peter’s fallen in love with the community feel.  

‘Unlike in the city, I don’t say goodbye to my customers at the end of a shift, I run into them at the supermarket, the gym and in the street,’ Peter said.  

‘The local connection and community is so nice. Although being in a small town there are lots of names, faces and coffee orders to remember. It keeps me on my toes!’ 

Eat, Relax & Explore: Emerald, Queensland

Local Tips with The Shelfield & The Sensory Owner, Peter Jeon


The Star Hotel – Peter’s local for tasty pub-style eats, think hearty classics like steak, pizza, burgers and chicken parmys. 

Casual Eats & Takeaway:

The Maraboon Tavern – Fresh, great quality, takeaway. The chicken schnitzel is my go-to when family or friends visit.  

Hooked Fish & Chips – Really nice burgers with hand-made minced beef patties. 


Fairbairn Dam – A great local spot for water activities like kayaking as well as picnics. 


Emerald Botanical Gardens – On Saturdays the park run is really popular, almost 100 people participate and visitors are always welcome. There are many athletic people in town, we have two CrossFits as well as lots of personal trainers and gyms.   

Local’s tip:

In a rush? Order from The Sensory or The Shelfield via Skip App which offer Mum & Dad in-car pick-up – just add your car rego!  

When to visit

The Sensory 
1/5 Borilla St, Emerald
Open Monday to Friday 5.30am to 1.00pm, Saturday 7am to 12noon, closed Sunday 

The Shelfield Coffee Brewers 
6/104 Egerton St, Emerald
Open Monday to Friday 5.30am to 1.00pm, Saturday 7am to 12noon, closed Sunday 

The Travellers’ Series brings you, our valued guests, recommendations for the incredible local cafes, restaurants, attractions and other businesses that make regional centres unique. 

It’s difficult to fully describe the high quality of our stay. For a start the unit was immaculate with everything supplied for a long stay…

– Bill and Nonie

Was very impressed by the service on arrival and the rooms were very modern and most importantly clean. Thank you for a great stay.

– George M

Nothing was a bother for the staff, they were friendly and helpful. I would recommend staying here especially for family holidays.

– Donna H

Only stayed one night for an event, but can’t say enough about this little gem. I’ve come to expect poor pillows in hotels be was very happily proved wrong here.

– Lisa S

The apartment was very well equipped with everything you could need – coffee machine, washer and dryer, full kitchen. Perfect!

– Janne K

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