It’s a crisp and breezy Sunday morning and a small group of cyclists relax in the outdoor seating at Home Ground café at Hughes, savouring a well-earned coffee. Home Ground has only been open for about a month but already seems to have become a habit for many satisfied regulars.
Owners Alexis and Rob stop and chat to customers as they work, serene and relaxed. They are comfortable in the food industry, having previously run a café at Cooleman Court in Weston Creek for six years.
“We had no clue what was involved back then,” Alexis says about those years. “It was seven days a week and you had to be open the same hours as the centre was open, so you only had Christmas Day and Good Friday off!”
She waves her hand at the new café entrance. “This is better. We can close over Christmas for a couple of weeks if we want to. We have had lots of support and great feedback from the local community.”
Running a café together is something Alexis and Rob have long wanted to do. Rob had a nursery in Pialligo years ago, and he did a bit of coffee on the side. His passion for coffee grew and he dreamt of opening a coffee shop on his own terms.
Passionate about creating a space for the community to gather, Rob and Alexis are collaborating with LH Event Management to host regular events that bring people together. First up is the Gingerbread Wine-derland on 18 December and later a kids’ cupcake decorating workshop in the January school holidays. Several small business networking events, workshops and twilight events are already in the works for next year.
Home Ground has already been a boost to the Hughes community. The local IGA appreciates the extra traffic from café customers. Family groups linger over brunch and the early morning bike riding crew shows up at 7:00 am after their ride. Teachers from the local school take their coffees to go and in the afternoon there’s the milkshakes-and-hot-chips rush from hungry school kids.
Alexis and Rob are working with ONA coffee as they appreciate ONA’s community-based approach, their project origin and fair trade project. ONA is also about great coffee. Every week, Rob features a different single origin for the black coffee drinkers.
“As far as single-origin, I have had a few Kenyan coffees that have been nice,” says Rob. “The South American and Ethiopian coffees are nice as well. We have a batch brew that we serve hot and we can also offer batch brew on ice. It’s a filter, it produces a bigger quantity rather than a single coffee. It is a much lighter, tea-like coffee. As it cools down, the flavour changes.”
Alongside the regular coffee menu and the batch brew, is ONA’s Raspberry candy, a milk-based coffee, infused with a hint of raspberry.
The food menu serves up standard all-day breakfast fare as well as some pub meals.
Home Ground’s Reuben sandwich is popular, packed with house-made corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickles and Russian dressing.
I order an avo feta smash and a sticky honey chai. This chai is created to be served on soy, the thought of which scares me, so I ask Alexis not to tell me how they make it. Soon, a steaming pot of chai comes out. As a milk drinker, I sip cautiously.
The sticky honey chai is frothy and dense, fresh spices infusing the hot drink with a sweet fragrance. I get no expected aftertaste, only the sweetness of cloves and cardamom.
“Is it milk?”, I eventually guess. No, it is soy!
The avo feta smash offers a generous helping of avocado with crumbled feta and the most delicious crunchy seed mix on the top. I could eat that all day long.
Home Ground Café is located at 5 Wisdom St in Hughes.
They are open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays and they close earlier on the weekend.
Follow Home Ground on Facebook to see their specials and to keep up with the varied and exciting events they are hosting.
Tickets for The Collective’s Gingerbread Wine-derland can be purchased here.