After fire tore through Pilgrim Coffee in 2018, gutting the 200-year-old heritage building, the iconic Hobart café has reopened its doors.
Despite a lengthy clean-up process and tedious heritage protocols to overcome, Owner Will Priestly is thrilled to welcome customers back to the shop he started 10 years ago.
“Opening day was very emotional,” Will says. “Out of the 10 employees we have working with us, eight are employees from when we burnt down two and a half years ago. It was extremely touching to see that these staff members wanted to be involved again.”
While the temporary closure of the venue forced Will to focus on his other business ventures, including Queens Pastry and Circle of Life Doughnut Co, Pilgrim was a part of Will’s life he wasn’t ready to give up.
“Pilgrim is a representation of my life’s work,” Will says. “It’s always been my first business and the one venue that’s totally devoted to coffee.”
The silver lining in starting again however, has been the chance to refresh the venue design, including a central positioned bar and designated areas of coffee production.
“We used to have just one three-group machine and now we have two – a Modbar gravimetric and custom painted La Marzocco KB90 gravimetric model coming,” Will says.
“A lot of customers just want their coffee, so to give them a better experience, we have one set of baristas focused on takeaway coffee being quick and efficient. On the other side of the counter is the Modbar where we have six to seven single origins running each day. The customer can talk directly to the barista about their preference, and what’s on offer. It removes the divide between barista and customer completely.”
Pilgrim has never roasted its own coffee, but nor does it need to. With up to 10 different brands of roaster available at any one time, Will says Pilgrim’s own point of difference is its ability to showcase the best of Australian-roasted coffee in the one spot.
“We have access to the best roasters in the country. Our model is ‘send us what’s best from the best’, nail each extraction, and really explore what everyone in the industry is doing,” Will says. “We’re having a fantastic time playing around.”
Will has a great relationship with Melbourne’s St Ali, whom he uses for the house blend. Other roasters to have their time in the hopper include Ona Coffee, Marvel Street, Proud Mary, Reuben Hills, Market Lane, Maker Coffee, and many more. “It’s the absolute who’s who of coffee,” Will says.
Pilgrim is keen to offer a full sit-down breakfast and lunch menu, but with COVID-19 precautious in place, is currently serving takeaway options. This includes a menu of locally-sourced produce for its pork belly sandwiches and freshly baked focaccia bread daily.
“It’s all about simple concepts with high quality execution,” says Will.
The 2010 Australian Latte Art Champion hasn’t competed in the barista scene for a number of years, but for now, Will says Pilgrim provides the perfect platform to continue to learn and talk about topics he’s passionate about.
“Day by day we’re getting back on our feet, growing, and sharing our passion for coffee with customers, and that’s what it’s all about,” he says.
54 Liverpool Street, Hobart, Tasmania, 7000
Open Monday to Friday 6.30am to 4pm, weekends 7.30am to 2pm
(03) 6234 1999