The Arts and Activism: a profile of Equal Love’s Anthony Wallace

In 2004, Prime Minister John Howard tabled the Marriage Amendment Act 2004, which banned gay couples from marrying or having their overseas marriage recognised by Australian law.

Fitzroy local Anthony Wallace’s interest in marriage equality peaked when he sat outraged and perplexed with his partner at Prime Minister Howard’s decision in 2004.

Over nine years later, Mr Wallace is the campaign manager of Equal Love, the Victorian arm of a nationwide campaign to achieve marriage equality in Australia.

“I was walking down Smith Street and saw a poster for a same sex marriage rally. I asked if there was anything I could do to help,” says Mr Wallace.

After attending his first marriage equality rally with a CD player in hand, Mr Wallace saw enormous scope for improvement in the staging of Equal Love’s rallies.

Addressing the crowd with a megaphone was simply not going to cut it.

Although at a busy time in his life, between performing as an actor in stage shows and finding his feet in the bar ownership caper, Mr Wallace took on a more prominent role with Equal Love.

As campaign manager, one of his greatest achievements is the staging of a rally in conjunction with the Sydney based Community Action Against Homophobia.

Anthony Wallace (centre) at a Marriage Equality rally. Photo: Anthony Wallace

In 2011, thousands marched from Hyde Park to Darling Harbour to the Labour Party Conference in support of marriage equality.

“It remains the biggest march for marriage equality in Australian history,” Mr Wallace recalls proudly.

“When I joined the campaign, public support for marriage equality was as low as 23 per cent. We can champion this until we are at 99 per cent, but the government has to act.”

Remaining motivated to campaign for marriage equality is easy and it is people like Peter and Bon who inspire him to do so.

Peter de Waal and Peter (Bon) Bonsall-Boone are two men who have loved each other for over 50 years.

Recently featured in a video on the Equal Love website, they have become well known to Mr Wallace and Equal Love.

Bon recently lost his battle with terminal cancer, with his final wish to be legally married to his partner Peter going unfulfilled.

Mr Wallace recalls the story of Peter and Bon to me, his tone changing from optimistic to outraged.

It is beyond his belief that these two men aren’t married, despite the tenure of their relationship and the love they have for one another.

It is clear in Mr Wallace’s exasperation that Peter and Bon’s story, and many others like it, are what keeps him fighting for marriage equality.

“Until you get what you are entitled to, you keep fighting for it. We won’t give up. I won’t give up. I’ll tire, but new people will come in and join the fight,” he says.

“We know what the word husband or wife means. That is a significant person in someone’s life. Nothing compares to that,” he says.

Mr Wallace angrily describes the marriage equality issue in Australia as “embarrassing” and “shameful”.

Recent remarks by former tennis great Margaret Court only served to incense him further.

Mr Wallace and his Equal Love comrades protested Margaret Court being the keynote speaker at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Melbourne on the 22nd of June this year.

“The Liberal Party endorsing Court as their keynote speaker was worse than broadcasters airing her views. It was more endorsement for her,” he says.

Ali Hogg, convenor of the Equal Love campaign describes Mr Wallace’s involvement as “lifesaving.”

“He organises a lot of the sound and stage aspects of our rallies. His background in event management has helped us tremendously with our campaigns,” Ms Hogg says.

His expertise in sound and the stage was cultivated in his teenage years, where he chose to forgo admission to the prestigious Melbourne High School in favour of the performing arts focused Northcote Technical School.

“I did my orientation at Northcote Tech and fell in love,” he says.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Ballarat University, he worked as an actor in stage shows and created a children’s touring theatre company, Jumpin’ Theatre.

As work in the performing arts dried up, he opened the 86, a cabaret bar in Fitzroy.

Anthony Wallace, owner of the 86. Photo: Anthony Wallace

“I shook a lot of cocktails in my time, but had very little cabaret bar experience,” he chuckles.

Nearly six years later, the 86 is the holder of a Guinness World Record for the staging of the longest non-stop Drag Queen and King stage show in the world at 36 hours, 36 minutes and 40 seconds.

“88 drag queens performed, with a drag queen on stage the whole time,” he says gleefully.

When Ms Hogg was asked to use three words to describe Mr Wallace she said, “he’s passionate, he’s driven and he’s opinionated.”

Passion, drive and opinion have been the ingredients to Anthony Wallace’s success and long may it continue.

The next Equal Love rally for marriage equality is on the 26th of August at the Victorian State Library, a Mass Illegal Wedding commemorating 13 years since the amended Marriage Act was legalised. 

Written by Nicholas Nakos

The Supper Market at the Abbotsford Convent

If you’re craving music, great food, an escape from the frantic city, and good vibes all at the same time, then I have the place for you!

Set in the beautiful Abbotsford Convent, The Supper Market has returned for 2017 and will be running right through until the end of February.

The historic Abbotsford Convent is home to the market every Friday night from 5 pm to 9.30 pm, where you can experience a magical world full of live music, food stalls, hand-made crafts and much more.

An aroma of sweet chocolate donuts and salty sweet potato chips entice you to the food trucks, taking up prime spots at the market – there is something for all taste buds with cuisines ranging from Ratatouille Burgers through to the tastes of the Himalayas.

One of Melbourne’s most popular food trucks, The Little Mushroom Co. has a permanent park for this year’s Supper Market, tempting visitors with their widely sought after burgers.

The Little Mushroom Co. owner Bryan Mooney said the Abbotsford Convent is a beautiful space for the market and a great environment to sell food.

“Our food is quirky and we take a lot of care developing the food and we can take over a year to make a menu item,” he said.

Alongside great food to indulge in there is also great music to entertain you throughout the night with electronic pop, live bands and African dance music.

The Abbotsford Convent. Photo: Theresa Harrison

Event organiser Jane Goodrich said the event sparked from a Sunday market that was previously held at the venue, and they decided the spot was perfect for a relaxing Friday night market.

“The main asset is the really beautiful location and you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city while being surrounded by the beautiful heritage gardens of the convent,” she said.

As you wonder around the markets there is plenty to see and buy, with handcrafted jewellery and vintage threads making an appearance.

The Supper Market is the place to spend a Friday evening after a hectic week of work. With another three markets to go, enjoy the relaxing twilight markets in one of Melbournes most iconic and scenic spaces.

And best of all, it’s puppy friendly.

For more information about The Supper Market or other events at the Abbotsford Convent click here.

Written by Grace Evans


Coffee date with: Sonam Sherpa

Shopfront Coffee is just as the name suggests: a small aesthetically designed shop-front cafe with space just for the beautiful white coffee machine and a handful of customers. The intimate space, designed and built by barista and owner Sonam Sherpa, invites conversation: a perfect fit for his vibrant and welcoming persona. With the myriad projects Sonam has on right now aside from his main gig Shopfront – we’re talking pop-up cafes and small sustainable farms – I was lucky to get in for a chat. Here’s what went down.

Yarra Reporter: So tell us about your background in coffee and how you got started in the industry.

Sonam Sherpa: So I started making coffee parallel to when I went to Uni. I started when I was about 19 and I kept doing it while I was at Uni, and then I traveled intermittently as well. I actually went to Uni for 7 years and made coffee at the same time. I got offered an opportunity to open a shop at the same time I was finishing Uni, so I thought I’d try and open a shop.

YR: What were you studying at University?

SS: I did my Masters in Landscape architecture. I still do stuff related to it; I’ve started a little farming project out in the Yarra Valley. So my studies do fold back into it, [for instance] I’ve designed and built all of the cafes I’ve opened.

YR: Where are the other cafes you’ve opened?

SS: There’s another one in Brunswick at the moment, It’s a pop-up called Phase One Coffee, and there’s another one out in the Yarra Valley called Manna Lane. (Like Manna Gums, an Australian eucalypt, he explains).

Shopfront coffee from the front. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald

YR: Where did you learn to make coffee?

SS: So my first job was at Gloria Jeans, that was just making coffee. Then when I was living in London I actually learned how to make coffee properly with some hard-core career baristas… that’s when it started. That [cafe] is called Climpson & Sons.

YR: How did you establish Shopfront?

SS: When my pop up on Smith Street (Place Holder) finished it was just logical to open up another [cafe] nearby. I was looking around this area for a space and I found this place for rent. I just went for it. (The old building was apparently previously a butcher, but now co-exists as apartments and the relatively new Shopfront Coffee).

YR: What is it you love about the coffee industry? (Customers walk in for a coffee just as I finish my question and he greets them enthusiastically).

SS:  This part. Hanging out, catching up with everyone, the social aspect. That’s why you do it. If you don’t like people, then you’re in the wrong industry.

YR: And on the flip side, what don’t you like?

SS: Probably the early starts. You kind of miss out on a fair bit if you’re starting work at 6:30 every morning. And then you have to go to bed early. I live with my girlfriend, and it would be nice to wake up with her and do stuff with her in the morning before going out to start the day. We have people who come in and they have their morning coffee together before they go out and start their day. I miss that I reckon.

YR: If you could work anywhere in the world as a barista where would it be?

SS: I would really like to try Mexico. It’s a heavily prolific coffee producing area and you get to eat Mexican food!

YR: Have you ever dabbled in roasting and would that be of interest to you?

SS: I’ve seen enough of it, done enough. I’ve been into different producing areas, like, I’ve been to Kenya and other coffee farms. The roasting part doesn’t really have any interaction with people, which is what I enjoy. I completely respect it as an art. But for me, it’s not thrilling.

YR: What do you think makes a good barista?

SS: A good attitude and a steady hand.

Baristas at Shopfront. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald

YR: If you weren’t making coffee what would you be doing?

SS: I’d love to be a dive instructor, I think that would be awesome! I love to go diving and snorkeling. A tour guide or something would be fun as well.

YR: Where’s your favourite place to get a coffee?

SS: There’s a place around here called Long Street Coffee. I love those guys. Whenever I’ve got a day off I go there. They’re such nice people and what they’re doing is really respectable. Not many people are that ethically minded.

YR: What’s next for Sonam Sherpa?

SS: Next up I’m starting a furniture trading company with my partner. Just to spice things up a little.

Written by Roxanne Fitzgerald 

Coffee date with: Ruby Kerrison

Meet 20-year-old Ruby Kerrison, the super sweet and positively vibed barista at Richmond’s slightly outlying cafe Long Street Coffee. In a converted garage – complete with the industrial-minimalist look Melbournians love and basketball hoop out front – Long Street serves up sensationally good coffee using beans from Proud Mary and fights for positive social change with a hospitality traineeship that empowers refugees and people seeking asylum.

Yarra Reporter: So tell us a little bit about Long Street

Ruby Kerrison: So, Long Street [opened] last year and it was started by Jane and Francois Marx. They started it because they wanted to use their activism for refugees and channel that in a way that has real life outcomes for people. So, the principles of Long Street are that we offer paid hospitality traineeships for refugees [and asylum seekers] so they gain real life hospitality skills in Melbourne, which is awesome because it also gets them used to this dynamic hospitality industry that we have in Melbourne.

YR: How many trainees are involved in Long Street?

RK: So we have [3-month long] traineeships. At the moment I work with a girl called Malisha from Papua New Guinea.  She [works] two days a week and then we’ve also got another person who comes in on the weekends; I only work with Malisha. We start them out on the floor and from on the floor we start teaching them about filter coffees and get them working their way up to the coffee machine. They get to experience everything. [I get] to help with training, which has been awesome, and we all do coffee training at Market Lane. There is definitely an emphasis on how much of a team we are.

Entrance to Long Street Coffee. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald
Entrance to Long Street Coffee. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald

YR: How did you start working at Long Street?

RK: I found an add and had a couple of trials. It just worked out perfectly well for me. The values here are in line with my values because I’m quite passionate about social justice as well. It’s really awesome to be part of a team that’s all on the same level [and] all want the same thing. [We are all] really passionate about providing an awesome service for people and also creating a community of sorts. It’s just an awesome place to work.

YR: Where did you learn to make coffee?

RK: I worked at a cafe previously for a year. It definitely wasn’t like this – as in they didn’t have a strong set of values. Here we have a real emphasis on being professional and also being individual. I learned to make coffee in my first job and I got used to working independently because it was quite a small cafe. [Long Street] is bigger, so it has been good to be able to up my skills both in volume and also consistency. Francois has been making coffee for maybe 10 years, so he’s been able to really guide me through and, like, tell me how I’m going, and basically train me.

Inside Long Street Coffee, where staying for a while and relaxing is encouraged. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald
Inside Long Street Coffee, where staying for a while and relaxing is encouraged. Photo: Roxanne Fitzgerald

YR: What’s your favourite part of your day working at Long Street?

RK: I genuinely love coming to work with the people I work with. It’s such an awesome place to be because my colleagues are great people. North Richmond kind of feels small because we have so many regulars and we’ve created a nice little community. The other night we had our Christmas party [with] all of the regulars and it was so lovely to hang out with everyone. It was just nice and super chilled.

YR: And the worst part?

RK: I’m super prone to anxiety, so whenever it gets busy I do tend to get a bit flustered, however… always improving.

YR: If you weren’t making coffee at Longstreet what would you be doing?

RK: I’m also working at a Call Centre, which is all right, but I honestly much prefer doing this…[I love] being in this fast-paced environment, working with people, helping people, and really feeling like you’re getting something from other people.

YR: Do you see yourself doing this for the foreseeable future?

RK: I reckon so. I’m also studying Gender Studies and Australian Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University at the moment, but I have no concrete plans in terms of a career. Right now I’m really happy doing this because I feel comfortable and I’ve finally found the perfect balance with uni, work and having a social life.

YR: Awesome, so you study, you work at Longstreet and the call centre, what do you do in your spare time?

RK: Okay, what do I do… I love reality TV. I’m also a ferocious reader. I’ve been getting into pottery a bit, which has been really awesome, I also just, like, enjoy getting out and cycling. I’ve just moved house, so I’ve been enjoying getting out and about and exploring.

YR: Where is your favourite place to grab a coffee?

RK: I live in North Melbourne and at the moment I’m really enjoying going to Counter, which I’m pretty sure is owned by Auction Rooms, but it’s a much smaller place. It’s really lovely, though, super chilled – not as busy.

YR: What’s next for Ruby Kerrison?

RK: Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I think I’m going to do Honours in Gender Studies. Hopefully. And then go travelling a bit. But, in terms of the next year I’m so happy to be working [at Long Street Coffee] and studying. I feel like I’m in a really good place at the moment.

Read more about Long Street Coffee here.


Written by Roxanne Fitzgerald

Something brewing in the City of Yarra: three breweries to visit this summer

Summer has finally arrived in Melbourne, and with it, an inclination to find a spot to partake in a refreshing afternoon ale or two, whether after work or on the weekend. Local breweries can provide the perfect answer, offering up crafty and tasty brews in a convivial atmosphere.

Going direct to the source is a particular treat, as you have the chance to sample the freshest batch of fermented goodness. You can also get up close and personal with the brewery bartenders who work close to the production and are well-placed to give you all the recommendations you need. Treat ’em nice and you’ll have a knowledgeable guide to steer you through an afternoon and into an evening of fun.

We’ve found three breweries in the City of Yarra particularly worthy of a visit. So give each a go, experiment with the most out-there concoctions, and maybe find a new favourite tipple. Happy (and safe) drinking!

Stomping Ground Beer Hall

100 Gipps Street, Collingwood.

Just off Hoddle Street, in a neighbourhood with a growing number of interesting venues, you’ll find Stomping Ground Brewing Co. bar, restaurant and beer garden. Beyond the grey exterior wall, hang your bike in the entrance and discover what lies within.

The selection at Stomping Ground brewery. Photo: Scott Robinson
The selection at Stomping Ground brewery. Photo: Scott Robinson

A well-lit, spacious area with a central bar pouring from a large, rotating menu of beers, from crisp to tart/funky, through to malt, smoke, roast, and fruit spice. Stomping Ground has something for just about everyone, with wine, cider, cocktails and coffee also on offer.

Deciding what to order can be hard at first, although the taste categories help. And depending on how adventurous you are, there’s a ‘Mixed Six’ option that gives you a range of beers to try, and a variety of sizes to choose from. With your selection in hand, head around the bar to the street-facing area where the roof opens on dry days, and enjoy your brew in the sunshine.

Menu: ranging from snacks to full meals, with seasonal specialties.

Open: 11:30am – 12:00am (1:00am Friday and Saturday)

Moon Dog Craft Brewery

17 Duke Street, Abbotsford

Going to Moon Dog feels like going to a friend’s house that has been converted into a brewery, then (surprise, surprise), everyone they know has turned up: it’s saturated with good vibes. Join the party by turning off Victoria Street onto Duke St and make your way through the assembled devotees to order a Really Ridiculously Fun Beer!  A self-described ‘tropical-indoor-outdoor-brewery-bar-paradise’, the space has expanded into the next room – ambitiously called the ‘ballroom’ – and includes a pizza van parked permanently outside. It does not disappoint.

Fantastic concoctions are the specialty at Moon Dog, where experimenting with challenging ales and beers bordering on the obscene are par for the course.

The fun starts with deciding what to order, with names like Beer Can, Old Mate, Mack Daddy, and Jukebox Hero. Whatever you choose, get ready for big flavours; the recently founded brewery has been known to experiment with watermelon, chilli, pumpkin and truffle!

A place to bring friends (or make them), the brewery bar is open every day except Monday and Tuesday, and holds events frequently, so watch out fot the next one

Menu: wacky and wild in the best way. Check out the latest or just try everything. Pizza is pretty good, and the friendly delivery boys’ll bring yours in from the van so you can remain at your perch.

Open: Wednesday – Friday 4:00-11:00pm, Saturday 12:00-11:00pm, and Sunday 12:00-8:00pm

Mountain Goat Beer

80 North Street Richmond

Tucked among warehouses and in the shadow of the Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre, Mountain Goat’s headquarters are open to the public twice a week for a round of tasting.

The scene at Mountain Goat. Photo: Scott Robinson
The scene at Mountain Goat. Photo: Scott Robinson

Settle straight in on one of the couches or gather in the welcoming open space and take your pick of the offerings. Everyone will be satisfied with a selection of the usual suspects to choose from, but seeing as you’re here, why not branch out and try something you’ve never seen in your local bottle store?

The Alphonse – an India Amber Ale – attracted my attention, and proved an excellent evening companion with its added Galaxy Hops flowers (“Imagine,” said the bartender, “green-tea leaves blooming in your beer, except fruity hops instead!”)

From its humble backyard origins and story of hard toil finding financial backers for the venture of co-founders, Dave and Cam, Mountain Goat was sold to Asahi in 2015, although the original team has stayed on. If that spoils the ‘indie’ credentials however, it may redeem itself with the green initiatives that include the use of recycled and reclaimed materials, rainwater collection and a number of other measures to reduce their impact on the environment. Read more about it here.

Menu: expect the standards but go for the rare breeds, with a pizza menu at the bar satisfying most tastes. Come for the beer though, not the food.

Open: Wednesday 5-10pm (with free brewery tour at 6.30) and Friday 5-11pm

By Scott Robinson

Collingwood’s Easey’s takes dining to another level

A train commute home may have you dreaming of beer and burgers, but what if I told you you could have the burgers and beer in a train carriage? It may not be moving, let alone taking you closer to home, but it will take you to an elevated dining experience.

Perched five stories above the ground in Collingwood, Easey’s train carriage restaurant and bar – open since May 2015 – has fast become a must-do Melbourne attraction, and for more reasons than just the epic city views.

Photo: Anna Madden.

The trains are masterpieces in themselves, covered with colourful graffiti artworks on the outside and decked out like an old-school American diner on the inside.

Co-owner Jimmy Hurlston said he wanted to celebrate graffiti’s influence on Melbourne.

“The trains are kind of the holy grail of graffiti,” he explains of the Hitachi trains.

“Graffiti was always traditionally done on walls but graffiti writers through New York decided that the best way to spread their message was to paint on trains because then they travel all around the city.”

Photo: Caitlyn Leggett

That trend spread to Melbourne when graffiti was becoming more prevalent in the mid ’90s and early 2000s. It was around this time that the Hitachi trains were being decommissioned, and considered rare and special for graffiti artists to tag. They also held special significance as a ‘real Melbourne train’, with most being built in Newport.

“What we really wanted to do was celebrate graffiti as opposed to street art because there is a fairly distinct difference between the two of them. Graffiti is a rebellious thing, it’s an expression, and graffiti writers don’t get paid,” Hurlston says.

“Without graffiti there’s no street art and without that then people don’t get paid an exorbitant amount of money to paint murals and paint pretty pictures that everybody wants and that Melbourne has become so famous for.”

When the trains were being installed, Hurlston invited some of the most prolific Melbourne taggers of the time to come to Easey’s and do their thing. The artworks are updated regularly.

“The paintings change a lot. Like the streets it changes all the time,” he says, admitting they are due to be updated soon.

Aside from the fact that the whole building is a gallery to showcase graffiti art in itself, Hurlston hopes to open a gallery for graffiti artworks in the same building, with the first exhibitions soon to be announced.

Photo: Anna Madden

“It’s very Melbourne. Melbourne celebrates street art and that’s why a lot of people come to Melbourne -it’s become one of Melbourne’s biggest tourist attractions,” he says.

Whether you come for the street art or to dine in a train carriage, it’s the only place like it in the world that is open to the public. Shoreditch – a hipster neighbourhood in London – is the only other place you’ll find train carriages on a roof, but they host a studio for a street artist instead. Yawn.

The restaurant takes up one of three train carriages sitting on the roof of the purpose-built building. Easey’s is the only carriage running all the way through, with the other two being split in two and hosting showrooms, offices and boardrooms.

Come for the trains but you’ll stay for the food, with mouth-watering burgers becoming their specialty.

When Hurlston wanted to celebrate Melbourne he didn’t just mean the artworks.

Photo: Caitlyn Leggett

“I’m born and bred in Melbourne and this was an opportunity for me to celebrate all of the things I love about the city,” he says.

With an appreciation for the classic fish and chip shops, the restaurant put its own spin on things with the most famous burger being one that contains potato cakes and dim sims.

“It’s my little ode to the fish and chip shop whilst trying to progress it and change it,” he says.

An already-busy Easey’s means booking a table is encouraged, and with big plans ahead for this unique space, the crowds will only get bigger.

Now you have an ‘easey’ choice for your next dinner outing. Pun intended. Guaranteed, it will be the most delicious train journey of your life.

Check out Easey’s here.


Written by Caitlyn Leggett

Coffee date with: Olmer Bollinger

Olmer Bollinger
Olmer Bollinger, Head Barista at Industry Beans.

Tucked behind Fitzroy’s trendy Brunswick Street, among some of the best street art in Melbourne, is Industry Beans – a roastery and award-winning cafe in one. Within the old warehouse that Industry Beans calls home, the kitchen serves up seasonal food that is described as refined and progressive, and coffee travels mere meters from the in-house roaster to cup. Behind the counter, serving up some of Melbourne’s best coffee is 29-year-old Olmer Bollinger: Barista and Roaster. We were lucky enough to score five minutes with him to chat about Melbourne coffee and his love of the job.

Yarra Reporter: How did you get into coffee?

Olmer Bollinger: I’m from Wellington in New Zealand, I started making coffee there at our family-owned cafe, Ministry of Food, using Allpress coffee. I’ve been making coffee on and off since then. I’ve done a bit of bar work, but I always come back to coffee. When I started out I didn’t really expect to still be doing it now.

When I started at Industry Beans I got more into the technical side of coffee and just got really into it from there. I liked that it was treated the same way that I’d seen cocktails and wine treated at bars that I’ve worked at, and once I was working with people who knew enough about it to teach me about it, it just took off.

YR: How long have you worked at Industry Beans?

OB: Over two years

YR: What is the best part of your day?

OB: Well lunch here is always awesome. They look after us real good. I smash the burgers here, they are both really good; the chicken and the wagyu beef. Most of us here have to put restrictions on ourselves to how many we’re allowed to eat a week. I allow myself one of each a week. That’s it. If you see the burgers you’ll see what I mean. They’re massive.

YR: What about the best part of the job?

OB: I always enjoy learning and I enjoy the challenges. At the moment I have a dual role: learning how to roast, as the most junior in the roastery, and then out the front I’m the head barista. So in one element I’m learning and the other one I’m teaching. I guess it’s just that transferral of knowledge that I find really awesome. And I get to drink delicious coffee all day.


YR: And on the flip side, the worst?

OB: Hmm … (there is a long pause and I’m about to scrap the question and let him off the hook when he says,) Large milk spills are really annoying. We have a machine called the juggler, it basically has a bunch of trays holding about 10 litres of milk each. If one of those bursts, it’s not pretty. And cleaning out the flues sucks, (he points behind me to large silver chimney-like pipes climbing up the wall above the roaster.) It’s basically exhaust from the roaster that builds up with oils and we have to get up on the giant ladder and clean it with a chimney sweep.

YR: If you could work anywhere in the world as a barista where would it be?

OB: Melbourne definitely. I’ve worked as a barista in New York and New Zealand and now here in Melbourne and my experience here has just been awesome. In New York I worked at a couple of places: a little cafe called Oatmeal in Greenwich Village, Public bar and Public restaurant.

YR: Where is your favourite place in the City of Yarra to grab a coffee?

OB: I really like Assembly, I haven’t been to their new place, but whenever I manage to get over to the old one in Carlton it’s always great.

YR: What about it do you like?

OB: It’s got a really nice vibe. They treat coffee with respect. I like that they showcase coffee from outside of Melbourne that I don’t get to try very often too.

YR: And what would you be drinking at said place?

OB: I mix it up, I can’t really go past either a short black or a pour over.

YR: If you weren’t making coffee what would you be doing?

OB: Well, I used to work in interior design, but I don’t think I’d be doing that. If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be playing music or teaching.

YR: You play music? What do you play?

OB: I play lots of things, but guitar has always been my main instrument.

YR: What do you think makes a good Barista?

OB: Caring about it. Caring about the quality of coffee. Attention to detail. You get people who let a lot of shit slide and that can be a problem with quality control. I guess as well, the ability to keep calm under pressure is key. It sort of depends on where you work. There are lots of different environments and different baristas are better suited to certain roles. Here, for example, we’re quite a high-volume place but at the same time we have a very strict level of quality control. We don’t let sub-standard coffees go out. A lot of high-volume places don’t go to the same effort. It is pretty difficult but we’re also blessed with really great staff.

YR: Most ridiculous coffee order you have ever received?

OB: We get a lot of ridiculous orders. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but we have tasting notes on our menu, right, (we open up the elaborate coffee menu, to take a look, showcasing coffee from around the world) and people misinterpret the menu sometimes and think the tasting notes are actually things that we’re adding to the coffee. They’ll ask for the “Fitzroy Street” without the plum. I mean it’s not that ridiculous, the coffee menu is pretty full on.

Coffee Menu

YR: Who are you listening to right now?

OB: I listen to a lot of old ’70s disco stuff, like a few of my friends DJ that music and I’ve just gotten really into it. My friend’s band from LA, Roses, are really good, and Frank Ocean’s new album is pretty cool too.

YR: What’s next for Olmer Bollinger?

OB: I’ve always wanted to go to outer space. Maybe I’ll get to that one day. Other than that I just take it day by day. Eventually, like everyone else who’s been working in hospitality as long as I have envisions opening up their own place … I haven’t conceived the idea yet. I’m still at that point of accumulating knowledge to the point where I feel comfortable and really ready to do it. Up until then I’m really just content working somewhere I enjoy myself and I feel like I’m still learning and I’m surrounded by people who know more than me. In that situation, I feel happy and I feel like I can progress.