Sustainability is truly at the core of Ona Coffee Melbourne, the new Brunswick flagship of the acclaimed roaster. From the solar panels and water tank that run the venue to its recycled materials and reusable cup policy, every precaution has been taken to reduce the café’s impact on the environment.
Ona Coffee General Manager Tom Beaumont says building and opening a café during COVID-19 wasn’t easy, but the sustainably-minded Breathe Architecture brought the roaster’s vision to life.
“There’s always bumps here and there, as you’d expect, but the goal’s always been the same and we achieved it,” Tom says. “This espresso bar has been mind-blowing for everyone involved. They had in their mind: ‘this is a café, you put a machine on a bench and make it look nice’, but this is unlike anything else.”
Sitting in the centre of Ona Coffee Melbourne is an espresso bar lined with white tiles, made from the moulds left over when producing bricks. On one side sits a San Remo Café Racer and four Anfim grinders, each loaded with a different one of Ona Coffee’s signature blends.
“We have all of the Ona Coffee offerings, which there is a lot of. There’s four milky blends, as well as all the filters and single origin espressos,” says Bar Manager Jess Lambie.
The other side features an ‘experience bar’, where customers can order pour over and discuss it with the brewer. A custom single-group Modbar is used to brew espresso from Ona’s frozen coffee reserve menu, allowing customers to experience unique and quality coffees roasted years ago.
“In some specialty coffee places, you might walk up to the bar and be afraid to ask the barista questions because the menu can be so overwhelming. We want to break that habit and have a space that’s welcoming, where people can come in and ask their questions,” Jess says. “Our focus here is coffee and people, really building that sense of community.”
Jess says it was important to Ona that it didn’t “come stomping in as the new big specialty coffee joint” and actually become a part of Brunswick. “As we’ve been setting up, we’ve networked with other people in the area, like Ovens Street Bakery across the road and the pottery place next door,” she says. “We’re using local produce as much as we can to be a part of the community.”
A spacious wooden outdoor seating area provides customers with a welcoming entryway while helping Ona Coffee Melbourne stand out from its more industrial neighbours. “In the summer, I can imagine chilling out there with my sketchbook, having a good day,” Jess says.
Natural lighting, gorgeous greenery, and a similar colour palette brings a taste of the outdoors inside. “Natural light always brings positive vibes and helps the space feel more open,” Jess says.
Ona Coffee Melbourne had a very busy launch on 11 June, despite limited seating due to COVID-19 restrictions. Customers had – and once restrictions are eased, will again have – the option of staying and enjoying the atmosphere, buying coffee and gear to take home from the dedicated retail wall, or enjoying a takeaway coffee in one of several reusable alternatives.
Following the successful opening, Jess says she looks forward to sharing more of what Ona Coffee has to offer Melbourne.
“Now that people know that we’re welcoming with information and the community we want to build, I hope people will come in wanting to learn more, especially baristas who aren’t necessarily working in specialty coffee,” Jess says.
“Ovens Street is a bit off the beaten path, which makes it like a nice little adventure. You really get a feel for the area, seeing the graffiti and experiencing Brunswick.”
Ona Coffee Melbourne
22 Ovens Street, Brunswick, Victoria, 3056
Open weekdays 7:30am to 3pm, weekends 8am to 3pm
Images: Rowan Marsh-Croft