10 October 2022

Five minutes with Lana and Mitch, Bloom Coffee

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Man and woman in front of a logo

Lana Leenan-Lester, Mitchel Lester, Bloom Coffee. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Who are Lana & Mitch Lester: We are the owners of Bloom Coffee in the new Woden precinct.

Best recent dining experience: We both absolutely love dining at Pilot in Ainslie. We went twice in one month! Not only is the food to die for, but the experience and service are also unmatched. For me (Lana) being pregnant, I don’t usually have a lot of drink options, but their non-alcoholic drinks are so interesting and delicious that I would much rather do the non-alcoholic pairing over the alcoholic one!

READ ALSO Where to get Canberra’s best cup of coffee – according to you

Favourite cuisine: Lana – Indonesian and Thai. I really enjoy a good takeout from Lemongrass in Phillip!

Mitch – Mexican. Tipsy Bull is not a Mexican restaurant, but I do really like the Spanish influence on their menu.

Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: Connected to our favourite cuisines. Mitch – buying premade taco mix for an easy meal. Lana – 2-Minute Noodles, but I did learn how to spruce it up from my Indonesian mother, so it has to be of a specific brand!

Tipsy Bull fish tacos

The Fish tacos with market fish, chilli, pineapple and coriander at Tipsy Bull. Photo: Tipsy Bull, Facebook.

What ingredient can I not live without: This is a tough question to answer! Mitch is the one that cooks at home and he says salt – it’s the basis of everything and it helps balance out flavour.

Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: We have noticed more casual fine dining restaurants popping up and we are really enjoying them! There is such a nice balance between amazing food and beautiful fit-outs, but feeling at ease as well. Plus they are so good for lunch or dinner!

Ramen O

Lana and Mitch love going to Ramen O for lunch. Photo: Ramen O, Facebook.

Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: At the moment we really like popping over to our neighbours Ramen O and sharing a big bowl of ramen and some gyozas.

My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: Bloom Coffee, of course!

Two coffees

Flat whites at Bloom Coffee. Photos: Thomas Lucraft.

A must-try on our menu: We are both a bit obsessed with our harissa cherry tomatoes, so we’d have to say our avocado on toast. It’s a classic and simple dish, but so much flavour is brought out by the spicy tomatoes and the crunchy pickled onions.

Biggest culinary influence: We are all for simple, but delicious. A lot of inspiration for our little menu has come from Joshua Weissman, who also just loves simple food and quality ingredients.

Avocado on toast

Loaded Smashed Avocado Toast at Bloom Coffee. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Favourite cookbook: Recently I (Mitch) have really been into cooking from Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. I don’t have a favourite among all of them!

Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: We don’t have anyone specific that comes to mind but we admire that the entirety of the Canberra hospitality scene has gotten so much better over the years. We are truly spoilt for choice at any given time!

Pilot Restaurant Champagne lobster

Pilot Restaurant’s champagne lobster. Photo: Instagram.

What’s the special of the week at Bloom Coffee: We don’t have any food specials or any weekly specials, but our filter coffee menu changes quite regularly and it is nice to showcase so many different coffees. We know that the coffee comes seasonally and it provides a good variety for our customers!

Where am I travelling to next: We are actually heading to Bali in a week and a half! My (Lana) mother lives there and it will be a nice babymoon.

Dream destination? We don’t have a specific country, but our dream would be to travel through South America for a few months. We almost did in 2016 when moving back to Australia from The Netherlands (where Lana is from), but we opted for the Philippines and Bali instead.

Death row meal: Mitch – a good bowl of gnocchi, preferably with pork sausage and a bit of spice! Lana – my mother’s Ayam kecap!

My least favourite food: Lana – pumpkin, I know, uncommon! Mitch – olives, I just can’t do ’em.

My favourite vegetable: Mitch – tomato, any way, any form (yes, I know it’s technically a fruit). Lana – I would have to say broccoli or green beans. The best way to eat them: stir-fried with chilli and garlic.

READ ALSO Gourmet Traveller names Pilot best ACT restaurant for second year in a row

COVID-19 response: It was a very interesting opening when we did. When we first signed the lease and started our fit-out plans, COVID was not a big deal here in the ACT. Of course, we were very lucky in that respect! By the time it got to the building stage, we had entered our three-month lockdown. This obviously delayed us quite a bit, but we opened in December 2021 and are grateful to say it has been going quite well! With people returning to the office, we are getting busier and busier.

My top three recipe tips: Mitch says …
1. Always have a sharp knife
2. Semolina under your homemade pizza base (it makes it stick less)
3. Keep it simple!

Bloom Coffee is open from 7 am to 2 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 2 pm on weekends. It is located at 10G/35 Furzer Street, Phillip.

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