Portal Coffee

Portal Coffee

Portal Coffee Founder Aaron McInnes abandoned his PhD to pursue his ambition to introduce a slice of specialty coffee culture to Busselton.

After successfully running mobile coffee trailer Crybaby Coffee in Darwin, Aaron and his young family relocated to his home state of Western Australia to launch this grab-and- go coffee spot in February 2024.

“I grew up in these parts so opening a café in Busselton feels like coming full circle,” says Aaron.

With a lengthy barista career spanning venues across Australia, Aaron was keen to take a different approach to the design of his café than those he’d worked in.

“I didn’t want to go the industrial route, so instead I opted for soft tones and used the 60/30/10 rule to add pops of my chosen signature colours,” he says.

His desire to do things differently expands to the café’s name, which Aaron says was a natural evolution from his former mobile coffee shop.

“Crybaby Coffee was based on the idea that we’re all cry-babies until we’ve had our first coffee of the day,” says Aaron. “Portal is more about being a gateway experience. When people visit, I aim to create a safe space for them to take a moment for themselves over the morning coffee ritual: be nostalgic and reflect on where they have been, look forward and plan out their future, or simply let their minds wander to interesting and quirky places.”

This reflective process is fuelled by Locale Coffee Roasters’ Original Gangsta blend, which is crafted into espresso-based drinks on a custom XLV1 Steamhammer machine. Collaborating with the Melbourne roaster was an obvious choice for Aaron.

“I was keen to work with Locale when we moved to Western Australia. I wanted to offer something different than other cafés in the area. I instantly vibed with Locale’s people and their philosophy and approach to coffee, and the team has provided fantastic support,” he says.

Aaron chose Original Gangsta as, to him, it is “the most Melbourne in style” of the Locale range, but he also prepares a selection of the roaster’s other coffees as filter options. These are served alongside in-house made snacks such as muffins, loaves, pastries, and biscuits, which Aaron bakes each day, along with toasted bagels from a local baker.

While the grab-and-go café only opened a few months ago, Aaron is already considering his next moves for Portal.

“We’re based in Fig Tree Lane, so I want to start making the most of our beautiful outside space. I have recently introduced some tables and chairs so people can enjoy their coffee under the big Moreton Bay Fig tree,” says Aaron.

Having people gather and spend time at Portal is another step towards his goal of creating an inclusive space where locals and tourists alike can relax, connect, and feel part of a community.

“My main aim is to integrate into the neighbourhood and feel part of the fabric of Busselton,” Aaron explains. “Some cafés can be impersonal, but I want to get to know my customers and build lasting relationships.”

Portal Coffee

Shop 44, 55 Prince Street, Busselton, Western Australia, 6280

Open Tuesday to Saturday 6.30am to 1pm

This article appears in the April 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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