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.