The Espresso Bar
I’ve been asked a few times whether I have owned a cafe prior to Maize Street Roasters. I opened an Espresso Bar in Sandgate a few years back (which is still going today – having been re-opened by the new tenant in the building I was leasing part of).
At a party, I was telling a few (true) stories about my experience at the Espresso Bar due to its location and a good friend suggested I should write a book on it. I started writing, and as happens, life/work/everything got in the way. Recently I found my ‘jottings’ and instead of sending them to the trash bin I thought I would share a couple of those short stories with you.
Barista on the Edge
Located between a swamp and a brothel, across the road from Newcastle’s biggest cemetery and sharing a space with a fruit & veg packing business, the Impulse Espresso Bar is in a fairly unique location as far as coffee shops go, sort of ‘on the fringe’, one would say.
The espresso bar is positioned with the front opening out to look at the back fence of the brothel and the roastery, being up stairs, looks directly into the doorway.
My mate, Mark, says I should call it the ‘Greek Entrance’ because it is behind the brothel. He reckons ‘no one will get it.’ Hilarious!!
Another customer suggested the ‘Glory Hole’, for the same reason. However, in the current world of PC’ness – Impulse Espresso Bar was what it remained.
I sometimes got questions about the fruit and veg business, rarely about the cemetery and I’ve yet to be asked about the swamp! On the other hand, the brothel elicits (or is that illicits) many curious questions from the male, and sometimes, the female customers.
I found it curious there was always a curiosity around the ‘purple house’ – the usual starter question, “do they buy coffee off you?”
I say, “Yep, they phone through their order and I take it over.”
The next question, “So you get to see them?”
I can’t help myself, “Yes and I speak to them AND did you know there is a swamp behind the building and it’s the home to a really rare frog?”
Most everyone ignores the quip about the endangered frog and the next question is invariably, “What do they look like.”
I answer with my standard answer, They’re people, just like you and me.”
Not the answer they expect, but usually enough to change the subject.
I was requested several times a week to deliver to the purple house – one time I was walking out of the car park and towards the brothel as a regular customer walked in. I said, “just delivering next door, back in a minute.” With a wry smile, he says, “make sure you’re not too long.” I had a moment of inspiration and I walked back to him and in a hushed voice I said, ” you know, I am one of a very few men in Newcastle who walk out of a brothel with more money than I walked in with.” It took him a moment but I walked next door with the sound of haughty laughter coming from behind me.
One of the many things that I love as a Barista is you get a ‘snapshot’ of someone’s life. A couple of minutes, usually and if I’m lucky they stay and chat for a few more. A good friend once said, “People’s stories are what makes the world,” and I whole-heartedly agree.