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Cubed Espresso Bar

Visitors for years thanks to its panoramic view over the South-East corner of Tasmania. However, the scenic spot is set to get a whole lot busier now that Laurie Trower and Fabienne Ganz’s mobile coffee van has set up shop.

The Cubed Espresso Bar Owners have established their own “destination coffee venue”. “We live in the middle of nowhere and our van’s location is a bit off the beaten track, but when people find us, it’s worth it,” Laurie says.

The husband and wife team always dreamt of starting a small, boutique coffee business that reflected their respect for the environment, and now they have.

To make that happen, for the good part of a year Laurie sourced recyclable products to complete the van’s transformation from a tin shell rotting in a backyard paddock to functional espresso bar.

The 1957 Australian built van was restored using polished aluminium. The interior furnishings include a 25-year-old commercial kitchen stove, and sustainably grown hoop pine timber and recycled celery top timbers for the cabinetry and bencthtops.

“We have a strong sustainable ethos and try to carry that through in all aspects of our business. The water is harvested rainwater and the van runs completely off the grid – using two 180-watt solar panels,” Laurie says. “It’s a good thing we’re leading into summer.”

Laurie says his decision to produce an eco-espresso bar cost him twice the time and money compared to setting up a normal mobile business, but he wouldn’t have done it any other way.

“In so many ways we’re poisoning the planet around the world. This is our way of giving back to the environment and minimising our carbon footprint. We wanted to show people it could be done,” he says.

Cubed Espresso Bar serves customers its own house blend, a seasonable single origin, and an extensive range of tea and hot chocolates.

It took Laurie six months of trialling and testing to perfect the beans and roast for the house blend, which he produces on a fully-restored retro 1-kilogram Has Garanti in a purpose-built micro roastery located at his home on the Tasman Peninsula. Laurie takes an artisan approach to roasting that relies on good old-fashioned sight, touch, and smell.

“Our green beans are fully traceable and ethically sourced. Everything we do is labour-intensive but we’re passionate about producing a quality product and being transparent,” he says.

At time of print the house blend combined Costa Rican, Brazilian, and Indonesian beans to produce a blend with caramel and fruit notes.

“I’m a third wave roaster but roast classic espresso-style for our house blend. I let the roast drop on first crack or just after and the result is big bold flavours. A lot of people tell me it’s one of the best coffees they’ve ever had – even some customers from Melbourne, so we must be doing something right,” Laurie says. 

There were few options when it came to selecting an espresso machine without power as its energy source, but Laurie is happy with his two-group Fracino gas machine from the UK.

Food is Fabienne’s forte.

Family recipes of sweets and savory items that have been passed down from generations come to life in the couple’s semi-commercial kitchen, and delivered straight to the van each day. All items are gluten-free and organic where possible, using locally sourced produce. Nothing costs more than $4.50. A must-try is the raspberry and chocolate fudge brownie.

In the short time that Cubed Espresso Bar has been operating, it’s made a strong impression in the local community, and has even been nominated for a Tasmanian EPA sustainability award.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved,” Laurie says. “We encourage others to come enjoy a friendly and personal experience with a quality and value-for-money product – and you might even spot a whale on the horizon too.”

Café Culture

Hospitality has been Andrew Reay’s life since he was 15 years old. He worked as a chef in fine-dining establishments in Launceston, but when the right café location in Trevallyn popped up three years ago, Andrew knew it was time to farewell the commercial kitchen for a more relaxed cooking atmosphere. Read more

Charles St Pantry

Six days a week Phil Lesley wakes up before the sun, braving the cold on the way to his Launceston café in time for a 5am start.

“Being so close to the city centre means we do a bustling morning trade,” Phil says. “The courts are just down the road, meaning we get a lot of court officials who are also up early coming in for breakfast or a coffee before they start work.”

This has been Phil’s routine for the past 14 years since moving back home from Victoria and taking over Charles St Pantry.

“Eighteen years ago I set off to travel the world, but only made it as far as Melbourne before I was offered a job as a chef,” he says.

Despite spending quite a few years working in cafés and restaurants around Melbourne, Phil calls himself a proud Tasmanian.

“We support our locals by serving coffee supplied by Shane Delanty from Doppio Foods here in Launceston,” Phil says. “Shane calls past once a week to make sure we’re on track. He also oversees all the training with our baristas.”

Charles St Pantry serves Bruno Rossi’s Uno for its house blend, and has recently installed a second grinder in order to introduce a single origin.

Phil says this is one example of how specialty coffee is becoming more important for Launceston cafés to not just do, but to do well.

“When I came back in 2001, coffee was still a bit of an afterthought,” he says. “That’s definitely changed now. Customers have a much higher expectation.”

Phil tries to support local suppliers when it comes to sourcing his fresh produce too. All his focaccias, Turkish breads, and bread loaves are brought in fresh from a bakery just down the road.

“We offer the café breakfasts staples like eggs, fruit salad, and toast,” Phil says. “Then there’s brunch items running all day, like the open grilled shaved ham and swiss cheese sandwich.”

Phil says as well as the daily interaction with the young staff he employs, it’s the bonds he’s made with his customers that gets him out of bed each morning.

“I get up early because I have that relationship with my customers,” Phil says. “I’ve been doing this a while now – I couldn’t keep it up if I wasn’t still loving it.”

Laneway

Nestled down one of Devonport’s most café-dense lanes, the aptly named Laneway is doing things a little differently.

In its fourth year of operation, Owners Alex McVeity and Rhys Taylor have been working hard to ensure their delicatessen/café stands out among the hoards.

“We’re always looking at ways to improve,” says Rhys. “For us that means simply listening to our customers, finding out what they want and fine-tuning what we’re offering.”

Born and raised in Tasmania, both Rhys and Alex spent a number of years working abroad and in other states before opening their café in Devonport.

“Working in Melbourne definitely had an impact on the direction we took when we decided to open Laneway,” Rhys says. “We realised there wasn’t really anything here, which was like what we’d come to love, so we decided to bring a little bit of Melbourne back with us.”

Rhys and Alex set out to create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where they could focus on providing a personalised service to their customers. Rhys says part of their ambitious plan for a Devonport café meant placing a high emphasis on producing quality coffee to accompany the fine food they offer.

Laneway serves Bristot’s Rainforest blend on its custom-made La Marzocco FB80. Bristot’s Rainforest is a Brazilian and Central American blend, and is Rainforest Alliance certified.

“It’s a robust, Italian espresso with a fair bit of body,” Rhys says. “It’s a stronger coffee with a slightly chocolate aftertaste.”

Laneway also serves an Ethiopian single origin on request for its more discerning coffee drinkers.

For diners, Rhys and Alex have designed a café style menu with a modern twist. The all-day breakfast menu features many dishes using organic produce from their own properties.

“Our Spanish beans, which are made using pancetta and chorizo, and served with sour cream, spring onion, and sweet preserved chilli on sourdough is very popular,” Rhys says.

Villino

Villino is not a new player on Hobart’s bustling café scene. Although anyone walking down Criterion Street this autumn could be forgiven for not recognising the specialty coffee store.

Villino has recently received a facelift, with a fresh coat of paint and redesigned signage to match its new direction.

“Villino has been evolving over the last eight years and we thought the café deserved a new look which reflected that,” says Owner Richard Schramm.

Villino is the Italian name for a small home with a yard, which Richard says encapsulates what he had in mind when Villino first opened. But as Richard says, the title is no longer all-encompassing of what the business has become.

“The café itself still maintains that relaxed homely feeling, but Villino has grown considerably,” he says.

Richard’s time is now divided between overseeing the running of the café on Criterion Street, ensuring all is under control down the road at its sister café Ecru, and managing the wholesale end of his coffee business.

“About five years ago we began roasting for ourselves because we liked the idea of having more control over our coffee,” he says. “We opened up the roaster on a separate site in Hobart and began supplying Villino coffee to cafés around the state.”

Richard says the primary focus of Villino café has always been on offering a specialty coffee experience, but this offering has broadened over the years. “We’ve built a really experienced senior barista team, including last year’s Australian Specialty Coffee Association Tasmanian Latte Art Champion Andy Nairn,” he says. “Our café customers have the opportunity to not only taste the wonderful espresso we’re preparing, but also taste our coffees using a range of alternative brewing methods.”

Villino serves its Synergy Blend for its milk-based coffees, which consists of South American, Central American, and African beans. “Our signature espresso blend is designed to be versatile with both black and milk-based coffees for our wholesale customers who don’t run single origins” says Richard. “It’s quite a rich, sweet, and full-bodied coffee with a hint of chocolate, notes of fruitiness, and a floral finish.”

The roastery’s 5-kilogram and 12-kilogram Probats work their magic on a selection of more than 20 single origins, which the café varies based on what the team really likes at the time.

“One of our roasters recently took a trip to Los Naranjos in Huila, Colombia and we’ve since been using a lot of coffee from that region,” says Richard. “We’ve also grown quite attached to what we’ve sourced from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Kenya, but ultimately we want to showcase to our customers what’s cupping up well. We’ve just had a really unique Indonesian Ming Solok which challenged our views on coffee from the region.”

Villino and Ecru both use Vitasoy for their soy-based coffees. “We did quite a bit of tasting, which involved pairing different soy milks with our coffees, prior to deciding on which brand to go with,” says Richard. “We found the Vitasoy variety performed really well in terms of workability and also in allowing the true flavour of the coffee to come through.”

Richard says milk-based coffees are still the most common order in his café and soy is the most popular choice for their non-dairy drinkers. “We are the coffee partner for MONA’s Dark MOFO Winter Feast. When we prepared for the event last year 10 to 15 per cent of our allocated milk stock was soy, which is significantly more than what it was a few years ago,” he says.

Both Dark MOFO and
its summer festival MONA FOMA attract huge crowds
 to Tasmania, which Richard says acts as another motivator for local businesses to up their game. “People come over here with high expectations of what they want and the last thing we want is to be below the national average. We position ourselves with the leading interstate specialty coffee businesses,” he says.

Villino is now one of a growing number of specialty coffee cafés in the state’s capital, with the bar continuously rising across Tasmania.

“It’s a bit of a pyramid and the guys at the top doing specialty are beginning to attract much more discerning customers,” Richard says. “This means every bean we roast, every shot we pour, every day, we have to get it right – we love it.”

Straight Up

Chicko Read and Jess Mackeen have a great philosophy to their café – being straight up about the coffee, food and service the provide.

“We want to be up front about clean eating and our coffee,” says Chicko. “If we wanted to invite you around for dinner, the items we serve at our café is the sort of food you would receive.”

Chicko and Jess opened the café in August 2014. They considered opening a café in Manly, Sydney, but decided Hobart was the best place to pursue their coffee shop dream. “I’ve been working in the coffee industry for the past 12 years at various venues, and Jess is a chef with 15 years experience,” says Chicko. “Hobart was ideal location for us to start our first business together. Our family is here, and the area we selected in Hobart had no real coffee offerings, so we thought it was time they did.”

The interior design of Straight Up features Tasmanian Oak for the bench top, and local artists have contributed to a mural on one of the walls with a “quirky coffee and food theme”. “As soon as a customer walks in they can see our La Marzocco Linea PB machine, and straight through to the kitchen. Our design is very open. We want our customers to be able to see the chef plating up, the barista pulling shots or look through a window to see staff working on the roaster. We invite our customers to come take a look, and learn how and why things work,” says Chicko.

Straight Up is one of the few Hobart cafés to roast their own coffee on site. Chicko uses a Has Garanti 5-kilogram roaster. “From working as a barista, I know what I like in a cup and I always want to have consistency. Roasting our own coffee is my way of controlling that consistency and still providing the flexibility to tweak things when I want to experiment. I didn’t have much roasting experience but at the end of the day I had to back that I knew what I wanted to achieve,” says Chicko.

The café serves its very own Straight Up house blend, which uses a combination of Brazil and Ethiopia beans. “I wanted to stick to chocolate and nutty notes that people love,” says Chicko.

Straight Up also serves two to three rotating single origins, with past favourites from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rican. Cold drip and Aeropress are available at the brew bar.

The café serves an 100 per cent gluten-free and vegetarian breakfast and lunch menu. “We try to break down the barriers of food and serve wholesome choices. It’s the food we love to eat and with so many customers having dietary requirements we wanted to give people somewhere to go and hang out,” says Chicko.

Favourite menu items include smashed banana on buckwheat bread with soy ricotta, mulled wine poached pear and toasted cornbread with haloumi, and olive oil scrambled eggs and avocado salsa.

“I enjoy waking up and knowing that I’m going to have a good day. It’s also really satisfying that we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve – a Straight Up café,” says Chicko.

Tombolo Freycinet

Tombolo Freycinet is located at one of Tasmania’s most picturesque spots, overlooking the serene landscape of Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay, and the granite mountains.

“It’s not a bad backdrop to enjoy a quality coffee with some local produce,” says Owner Shannon Griffiths.

After working in the hospitality scene for many years, Shannon and her partner Andrew Merse found the unique location and set up the café four years ago.

“We saw a gap in the market for a dedicated coffee shop in the Coles Bay region and East Coast area of Tasmania. Our philosophy is to keep things simple and do those simple things well,” says Shannon.

Tombolo Freycinet’s interior reflects a rustic and relaxed ambiance with coastal-inspired furnishings and handmade tables and chairs.

Andrew’s own photography decorates the walls in addition to artwork from local artists.

“We want people to feel at home when they walk in the door,” says Shannon. “It’s also important to us that we support local talent, local produce, and source as close to home as possible to reinforce that real paddock to plate experience.”

For this reason, Tombolo Freycinet uses Hobart-based Villino Coffee.

“Villino’s Synergy blend is delivered fresh each week. It’s a smooth style of coffee with hints of sweet and fruity notes, and caramel undertones,” says Shannon.

A mobile espresso cart serving the Synergy blend sits outside the café seven days a week for takeaway orders.

To accompany the coffee a range of house-made pastries are available, including frangipani tarts, lemon curd tarts, and flourless orange cake. For lunch and dinner, Andrew shows his talent in the kitchen with a menu comprising thin-based woodfire pizzas and fresh seafood.

“There are times I serve a cup of coffee and I watch a customer take the first sip. That wow moment and the satisfaction on their face is a great feeling,” says Shannon. “It makes it all worth while when you know your customers are enjoying what you produce.”

Capulus Espresso

Every day Capulus Espresso Owner Daniel Smith walks up Elizabeth St and opens a roller door to reveal a garage. But it’s not a typical space filled with tools or cars, it’s a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop.

Inside, Dan has created an industrial look to fit the garage space, with a timber bench, black walls and cord lights dropping from the ceiling. Capulus Espresso predominately caters to a take-away crowd, with a lot of foot traffic in the area, but Daniel always has a few milk crates out the front for his customers to sit and enjoy their coffee.

“Capulus Espresso is very much a community oriented place. Because the café is literally the width of a roller door, customers get to have a chat and know each other. It’s a very relaxed space,” he says.

Capulus Espresso uses locally roasted Zimmah Coffee for its custom-roast blend. “It’s quite punchy, not very acidic, with notes of chocolate and fruit,” he says. “It’s fairly bold but cuts through milk-based coffees well, and goes great for blacks too.”

For the espresso fans, Capulus Espresso serves its Hobart customers with a variety of rotating single origin coffees from Sensory Lab. A Brazilian coffee from Forquilha do Rio was a past favourite because of its rich, dark chocolate notes.

Daniel established Capulus Espresso in March 2014. He had worked as a chef in Melbourne before moving his family to Hobart five years ago, taking with him a little piece of Melbourne’s coffee culture.

“When I first moved to Hobart the coffee scene was just starting to evolve. Now we’re seeing lots of little boutique roasters and coffee shops opening up all over town,” says Daniel. “I decided to take some inspiration from the Melbourne hole-in-the-wall café scene and bring that to Hobart.”

Daniel may have ditched commercial kitchens for a customised dark grey three-group La Marzocco Linea, which he describes as “an old girl but a good girl”, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love the culture and vibe of working in a café, and the interaction I get with customers each day. It sure beats working in the back of a kitchen,” he says. “The best part is that I get to be involved in people’s lives every day.”

Raspberry Fool

Chef and Café Owner Gail Sellin is no stranger to the hospitality scene. For 10 years she worked in high profile restaurants in Sydney before realising she missed the casualness of the café lifestyle.

Gail’s solution was to move to Tasmania with her partner. “I wanted to get my teeth into my own business. I decided running my own café would be the best way to do that,” she says. “I love that being a café owner means that I’m part of someone’s day; whether that’s because I have a conversation with one of my customers, or I serve them a great cup of coffee.”

Before opening Raspberry Fool in 2012, Gail knew exactly what coffee she’d like to use. “It had to be Campos Coffee,” says Gail. “I’m a devotee after years of living in Sydney, and I wanted my Tasmanian customers to have the same experience. So Raspberry Fool became the first Tasmanian café to serve Campos.”

Long-term employee Mark Luckman is the smiling face that greets customers each day. Along with full time barista Cassidy Kelly, they both work their magic on the La Marzocco machine, serving Campo Coffee’s Superior blend. “I deliberately chose this blend because it’s instantly recognisable with the Campos  brand. “It’s strong-flavoured, smooth and has a touch of caramel tones,” says Gail. “Our café is sought-out by locals who know the Campos Coffee brand because they associate it with quality.”

The café hosts 20-seats and big glass windows to watch the world go by. On the weekdays, the venue attracts plenty of local customers, and by the weekend lots of families and tourists pop in.

Gail says the café name Raspberry Fool is a play on an old fashioned dessert that dates back to the 16th century. “Raspberry Fool is made from whipped cream and raspberry. It’s simple and elegant; all the things our café is,” Gail says. “All the sweets your grandma makes can be found here.”

Classics sweets to sample include raspberry and coconut slices, and bread and butter pudding. An all-day breakfast menu is also available. All the bread and pastries are made on-site, with nine different types of homemade pies to savour, including Moroccan lamb. “Hobart is a small town with a small population, but within our café we have our own tight-knit commnity of loyal regulars who love their coffee,” says Gail.

Kudos Specialty Coffee and Juice Bar

Steve Cipura is a former electrical contractor who has always shared a passion for coffee. To make his passion a reality, Steve abandoned his electrician’s van for a La Marzocco FB80, and he’s never looked back. “I’m getting a bit old to crawl through rooftops now, and working on site can be quite monotonous, so I’m enjoying my new-found career change,” says Steve.

“If you love something enough, it shines through in the end product, and that’s exactly what I believed in when I started Kudos Specialty Coffee and Juice Bar.”

Steve opened Kudos on Valentines Day in 2013 in the heart of Launceston. He says he would have opened earlier if his coffee machine hadn’t been dropped in transit. Without the most important instrument to a café’s orchestra, Steve was forced to hold off the café opening until a replacement machine was found. Despite reservations from locals of “another café” opening in the area, Steve says he’s been determined to prove his staying power. “We now have a loyal following from locals and lots of tourists. I’m trying to bring a little bit of Melbourne flair to Launceston,” says Steve. “I visit Melbourne regularly for inspiration. It’s the coffee capital after all.”

For a refreshing and healthy start to the day, Steve serves a range of fresh juices, which includes The Hulk, with kale, celery and green apple, in addition to The Detox and Revive juices.

Kudos uses Villino Coffee’s Synergy Blend, which Steve says is a “rich, sweet and full-bodied coffee with chocolate, fruity and syrupy notes”.

Villino Coffee’s Colombia single origin from farmer Elkin Guzman at El Mirador farm was also available at the time of print. This coffee is very clean and balanced, with mandarin and floral notes. Steve says this Colombian holds particular significance to Villino Coffee’s Head Roaster, who visited this particular farm and brought back 69 kilos of the micro lot coffee.

To add variety, Steve likes to feature a guest roast from time to time, with past favourites including Seven Seeds, Proud Mary, and St ALi. “I get to taste amazing coffee all day every day, so I figure I have the best job in the world,” he says.

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