They’re the delightful pair behind your sweet, lifesaving cuppa every morning so, for Mitch and Hayley of Social Espresso, let’s all take a minute to give thanks.
The clever couple started their business just a few short years ago and, in that time, have amassed a huge following of loyal Gold Coasters in love with their unique blends.
We sat down for a chat with Mitch and Hayley about what it takes to create a brand new coffee blend (yes it’s a lot of coffee) and how they came to be stocked in so many locally loved cafes.
How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
We moved from WA to the Gold Coast about five years ago now for Hayley’s work at the time. Fell in love with it immediately and very quickly made it our home.
What do you love most about living in our beachside city?
We are both from small coastal towns so we love that it has beautiful beaches and that laid back coastal vibe but there is also a great buzz! There is an awesome cafe and restaurant scene (we are both foodies) and so much growth and opportunity for business. We feel there is a great sense of community here where startup businesses are encouraged and small businesses support each other and work together and that’s pretty special!
Tell us how your business, Social Espresso, came about?
Mitch: I’ve always worked around coffee and while on a surf trip through Central America I visited some coffee plantations and my real interest in coffee began. When I moved back to Australia I began deepening my experience as a barista. From there it progressed to managing cafes. When we moved to the Gold Coast I had the goal of eventually starting my own business. I started working for several cafes and I felt there was a gap for local coffee with a strong focus on service and so I just started learning everything I could and took the leap.
What’s the process of creating such a unique blend?
It’s quite a journey the coffee bean takes from crop to cup. But keeping it short and simple; we start with an idea of a flavour profile we want to achieve. We generally find the most crowd pleasing is a full body with smooth caramel and milk chocolate sweetness and a slight berry or dried fruit acidity. We source a variety of beans from around the world and sample them through a process called cupping. Here we look for different characteristics in each bean, some offering body, some sweetness, others a fruity acidity. From there we build the flavour profile through these layers to give our drinkers the best experience.
Why do you think people grew to love it so quickly?
It took time and lots of trial and error to come up with a few blends we are really proud of. We had the Gold Coast market in mind and are constantly asking the public what they look for in their daily brew. I think that’s the most important thing, keeping the end consumer as top priority and not getting too carried away with trying to be too different. We also make sure we work with good machinery and train our baristas thoroughly in weighing and timing each shot in order for them to deliver consistently delicious coffee every time.
What does a normal day look like for the two of you?
Starting bright and early serving coffee in our coffee bar in the Burleigh industrial area. We open from 5.30am to 10.30am for the morning rush – it’s our favourite way to start the day – chatting to our regulars and having a few laughs, networking and solving the problems of the world. Once that shift is done we then pack both cars up, split ways and pop into each of our cafes with their weekly delivery. Mitch looks after all barista training so he may have a few of those booked in each week. The rest is filled in with time at the roastery, machine maintenance, sales enquiries, packing online orders, marketing and back end admin. It’s just a two-man band so we do it all.
How do your beans come to be brewed by some of the most loved cafes across the Coast?
We feel extremely lucky to work with some of the top cafes on the coast. We have formed great relationships in our coffee community and have been lucky enough to get most of our business through these friendships, customers and word of mouth. Service is a priority for us; we make sure we are in our cafes each week checking that everything is running smoothly. We really love what we do and I think that’s the key to a successful business.
What else is involved in the business we might not be aware of?
We partnered up with our friend Jeremy at Raw Earth Organics to start our own cold brew company, Two Amigo’s Cold Brew. It’s really taken off nicely and we are stocked in several cafes, bars, restaurants, markets and supermarkets throughout the coast. That’s been an exciting little venture and one that we are hoping to keep growing.
What’s the plan for 2019 for the two of you?
Further growth hopefully in both Social Espresso and Two Amigo’s cold brew. There are still so many areas we would love to branch into. And a holiday! It’s been a while.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: We live right on Talle Creek, so we feel like that’s our little local sanctuary. But our favourite beach has to be Cabarita. For Mitch it’s wherever there is surf.}Cafe: This is a hard one, it’s a little like asking who your favourite child is. Obviously we love all our Social Espresso cafes! But depending on what mood we are in, we usually can’t go past breaky at Cafe Caribou. Cafe Dbar also do a great feed and they have incredible views! Mitch loves a pie on the go at Fuel Bakehouse or on treat day a coffee and donut at D point 10…if you haven’t tried one of their donuts, you haven’t lived! We are also really excited for our newest partnership, Burleigh Co-op who’ll be opening their doors in a few weeks!
Restaurant: Etsu. We love Japanese and this place never disappoints! It’s our go-to when we need to treat ourselves (which is quite often) or impress visitors. We also love Baskk in Kirra. Epic food and cocktails and a really fun vibe.
How does your weekend usually look: Getting up early (cant sleep in to save ourselves), Mitch usually goes for a surf, I go to yoga and then meet at home to make a cold brew coffee, throw the mattress in the back of the van and cruise down the coast for an adventure. We love finding cool new cafes, a quiet beach to surf and relax and a nice spot to park up for the night (preferably with ocean views)
It comes in the form of Jeffersons, a fun little space underneath the Palm Beach Surf Club on, you guessed it, Jeffersons Lane and right beside the beach for the sole purpose of encouraging you to live your very best Gold Coast life. With bulk coffee.
It’s all whites and natural wood with greenery throughout and a sign reading “your day starts here” across the back wall and it does now Jeffersons, you are right good sir.
It is indeed the work of the Palmy Surf Club but don’t be thinking all those “surf club coffees suck” thoughts you’re about to entertain. No friends, that is not the case here.
The gang at Jeffersons are using the beans of local legends Social Espresso and, as you no doubt know, those make up a smooth, tasty blend and some of the very best cuppas around.
Not to mention the yummy baked goods you should also stock up on should you find yourself beachside and starving on a sweet Sunday morning. Which we all certainly do one way or another.
There are custard and Nutella filled donut balls plus muffins fresh from Fuel Bakehouse in Currumbin, not to mention banana bread (love you) with a housemade cinnamon butter that you will return for time and time again.
There are toasties of the ham, cheese and tomato variety and bliss balls for a bit of protein after an early morning surf or some such thing.
You may also indulge in cold pressed juices and Kombucha to accompany your coffee if having more than one delicious beverage on the go is your idea of a fun time (YEP).
All of the takeaway packaging within Jeffersons is recyclable including, yes, the coffee cups BUT if you bring your keep cup along, you’ll nab yourself a 50 cent discount on your coffee (that’s a lot y’all).
There are rugs in a basket by the counter so we suggest grabbing one of those, plus a few select goodies and setting up a little picnic-style situation overlooking the pretty Palmy ocean.
LOCATION: 117 Jeffersons Lane, Palm Beach
HOURS: 5.30am until 10.30am Monday to Friday and 5.30am until 12pm Saturday and Sunday
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
I think we can all agree Japanese food is a gift from the Gods. Particularly when it’s consumed in a floating, recycled railway sleeper booth and with the sweet smell of charcoal wafting through the air.
There probably aren’t enough words to describe the sensory experience that is Burleigh’s new back alley Japanese Yakitori Bar, but in the name of delivering the news, we’ll give it a crack.
Iku Yakitori Bar is the latest baby of local restaurant dream team Mitch and Nerissa McCluskey (of Etsu Izakaya and Commune fame) who will soon be welcoming an actual baby into the world (because sleep is overrated yo).
The vibe is dark and moody with the aforementioned booths floating a foot off the floor opposite the Binchotan (grill) and decked out with leather cushions and cosy, up-close-and-personal feels. At the alley end of the venue, a low-lit bar and velvet corner lounge await and you may dine in any area that tickles your fancy. With an authentic, somewhat massaging cobblestone floor, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped off the streets of Tokyo. Alas, work tomorrow.
In case you’ve never heard of a yakitori bar, the gist is this – yakitori quite literally translates to grilled chicken and no part of the chook will escape the Binchotan uncooked. That’s right foodies, your boundaries are about to be tested and you should not be sad about it. Thighs, liver, skin, cartilage and hearts will all be skewered for your tasting pleasure.
Tenderloin, seafood and veggies will also be stuck on sticks and there are other delightful things such as edamame dip and raw fish to consume too.
Bar manager extraordinaire Adam Bastow was brought down from Etsu to work his magic in the Japanese whiskey-focused space. He and the team will also be creating a new, fresh produce focused cocktail menu each week to keep you on your toes. Ambitious lot aren’t they.
Charcoal for the Binchotan is imported from Japan and everything from the plates to the leather menus and napkins have been handmade by the team (read: Nerissa). It’s tiring just reading that.
So many words, so many reasons to go. Thanks for reading.
LOCATION: 1730 Gold Coast Hwy (front entrance) or head in through the back on Justin Lane (next to Lockwood Bar).
HOURS: 5pm until late daily.
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.
Turns out dreams really do come true. Specifically those of the round sugary variety and even more specifically if they involve Southport. Yep.
Form an orderly queue dessert lovers, because a delightful donut store opened up that way recently and their creations are Gods gift to all of us.
D Point Ten can be found on Stevens Street and, in keeping with the general donut vibe, is a little hole in the wall space pumping out the freshest of donuts we may have ever excitedly shoved into our greedy mouths. In all the best flavours no less.
Think Gaytime goodness, Ferrero Rocher, Passionfruit (LOVE), Oreo, Tim Tam, Salted Caramel, Strawberry with M & M’s, the list goes on.
Yes, all the very best flavours in the world have come together in sweet, circular desserts that will actually knock your socks off. Bye diet.
Owners Henry Kim and Dean Jeong met while working together a few years ago and dreamed a few donut dreams. They began wholesaling their goodies from a commercial kitchen not long after and when the Southport space became available, they went for it.
Lucky for us.
The pair are in store at 3am every morning whipping up their creations and that is a level of dedication we have never experienced.
D Point Ten are also serving up Social Brew coffee to keep things local, so you can pretend to go in for a morning brew and then treat yo’self to a donut or two.
In case you’re interested in fun facts, the shop got it’s name from starting out with 10 flavours, plus promising customers they’d only keep donuts for 10 hours to ensure freshness and of course, producing 10 out of 10 goods.
Happy, holey days friends.
LOCATION: 6/1 Stevens St, Southport
HOURS: Open from 6am until sold out (eek)
Words and photos by Kirra Smith