Written for Foro, Published October 2016
After a year of caffeinated success from Port Melbourne café, Rocco & Coe, brothers and part-owners Nathan and Damien (Damo) Coe opened their own venture, Coe & Coe in the backstreets of Cremorne. Serving up some of Melbourne’s best coffee, paninis and juices, Foro talked to the two bros to find out the story behind the slam dunks.
The combination of Nathan’s regular travelling—where he developed a love of European, standing-style espresso bars—and Damo’s hospitality experience spanning twelve years, led to the two brothers forming the idea of setting up their own café. ‘It’s something that I always loved doing,’ says Damo. ‘People ask “What’s your passion?”, and without sounding cheesy, it’s coffee and people.’
‘I’ve always wanted to have a café’, Nathan agrees, and the two were firm on the opinion that they wanted a simple offering. Simple it is, but plain it’s definitely not, with a tasty menu of fresh juices, coffee, and unique paninis. The Italian style bread is baked exclusively for Coe & Coe. Made fresh every day, the light, rye panini is healthier than your average white bread, and even better—has no pesky preservatives. The guys tell us it toasts really well, too, nice and crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. ‘We wanted it to be about basic good flavours that mixed really well together’, says Nathan.
‘People ask “What’s your passion?”, and without sounding cheesy, it’s coffee and people.’ – Damo Coe.
Complete with a casual basketball hoop and high-profile graffitied walls, the space is trendy, slick and welcoming, but it’s the team that stand out as being incredibly vibrant, with a massive focus on old-school hospitality. Customers are always greeted with a smile and a wave, even if they’re just passing by on tucked away Stephenson Street. Well and truly a place you’ll feel welcome, the second you step foot through the roller door (or when you hit the makeshift basketball court) the gang will greet you with enthusiasm.
Nathan tells us that’s mostly thanks to his brother; ‘Damo is massive on customer service’, emphasising that Damo’s strength lies in building bonds. ‘He treats everyone like they’re his mate… He can see someone pulling up to the café, know their order and start getting it ready.’
It’s not just in the communication, or the friendly attitude—it’s in the little things, such as not having a minimum on eftpos, or ‘making it [the coffee] however the customer wants it’, says Nathan. ‘Who are we to say how you should drink your coffee?’ A statement that Damo strongly agrees with. ‘I don’t think customers these days are shown enough respect,’ says Damo. ‘They’re coming to you with their hard earned money, and people take that for granted’.
The familiar hospitality doesn’t stop at Damo, with the whole team embracing the welcoming vibe, and making customers feel ‘part of the team’. Damo says that’s about not only hiring the right people with the right attitude, but looking after and treating your staff right. ‘I think 90% of people are unhappy in their work, and that’s definitely something we want to avoid. If they’re not happy working we’re failing them somewhere. I would say that everyone here looks forward coming to work, at least I hope so.’ Says Damo.
‘Who are we to say how you should drink your coffee?’ – Nathan Coe.
It’s clear Coe & Coe know how to look after their customers, and their staff, but that’s not enough for them (over achievers much?). ‘One of my big things was, I wanted to try and do what we can to help other people’, says Nathan, which is how Coe & Coe adopted the Buy1GIVE1 campaign. Every time a customer buys a panini from Coe & Coe, seed is given to a family in Ethiopia to grow crops capable of nourishing and sustaining those in need. Not hungry? That’s okay too, any coffee, juice or water purchase goes towards providing clean drinking water. See their progress here. ‘A small impact becomes a big impact if everyone gets on board,’ says Nathan.
So head down to Coe & Coe for a panini you can’t get anywhere else, great service and a feel good lift to your day. Even swing by to shoot some hoops, the guys won’t mind. In Damo’s words, Coe & Coe is: ‘A place you can come and be yourself, enjoy, be looked after, and be treated with the utmost respect’.