Villino is not a new player on Hobart’s bustling café scene. Although anyone walking down Criterion Street this autumn could be forgiven for not recognising the specialty coffee store.
Villino has recently received a facelift, with a fresh coat of paint and redesigned signage to match its new direction.
“Villino has been evolving over the last eight years and we thought the café deserved a new look which reflected that,” says Owner Richard Schramm.
Villino is the Italian name for a small home with a yard, which Richard says encapsulates what he had in mind when Villino first opened. But as Richard says, the title is no longer all-encompassing of what the business has become.
“The café itself still maintains that relaxed homely feeling, but Villino has grown considerably,” he says.
Richard’s time is now divided between overseeing the running of the café on Criterion Street, ensuring all is under control down the road at its sister café Ecru, and managing the wholesale end of his coffee business.
“About five years ago we began roasting for ourselves because we liked the idea of having more control over our coffee,” he says. “We opened up the roaster on a separate site in Hobart and began supplying Villino coffee to cafés around the state.”
Richard says the primary focus of Villino café has always been on offering a specialty coffee experience, but this offering has broadened over the years. “We’ve built a really experienced senior barista team, including last year’s Australian Specialty Coffee Association Tasmanian Latte Art Champion Andy Nairn,” he says. “Our café customers have the opportunity to not only taste the wonderful espresso we’re preparing, but also taste our coffees using a range of alternative brewing methods.”
Villino serves its Synergy Blend for its milk-based coffees, which consists of South American, Central American, and African beans. “Our signature espresso blend is designed to be versatile with both black and milk-based coffees for our wholesale customers who don’t run single origins” says Richard. “It’s quite a rich, sweet, and full-bodied coffee with a hint of chocolate, notes of fruitiness, and a floral finish.”
The roastery’s 5-kilogram and 12-kilogram Probats work their magic on a selection of more than 20 single origins, which the café varies based on what the team really likes at the time.
“One of our roasters recently took a trip to Los Naranjos in Huila, Colombia and we’ve since been using a lot of coffee from that region,” says Richard. “We’ve also grown quite attached to what we’ve sourced from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Kenya, but ultimately we want to showcase to our customers what’s cupping up well. We’ve just had a really unique Indonesian Ming Solok which challenged our views on coffee from the region.”
Villino and Ecru both use Vitasoy for their soy-based coffees. “We did quite a bit of tasting, which involved pairing different soy milks with our coffees, prior to deciding on which brand to go with,” says Richard. “We found the Vitasoy variety performed really well in terms of workability and also in allowing the true flavour of the coffee to come through.”
Richard says milk-based coffees are still the most common order in his café and soy is the most popular choice for their non-dairy drinkers. “We are the coffee partner for MONA’s Dark MOFO Winter Feast. When we prepared for the event last year 10 to 15 per cent of our allocated milk stock was soy, which is significantly more than what it was a few years ago,” he says.
Both Dark MOFO and its summer festival MONA FOMA attract huge crowds to Tasmania, which Richard says acts as another motivator for local businesses to up their game. “People come over here with high expectations of what they want and the last thing we want is to be below the national average. We position ourselves with the leading interstate specialty coffee businesses,” he says.
Villino is now one of a growing number of specialty coffee cafés in the state’s capital, with the bar continuously rising across Tasmania.
“It’s a bit of a pyramid and the guys at the top doing specialty are beginning to attract much more discerning customers,” Richard says. “This means every bean we roast, every shot we pour, every day, we have to get it right – we love it.”