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.”