My First Impressions as a Folker
Three months ago, I had never had a cup of coffee.
I couldn’t stand the smell, let alone tell you if something was full bodied, over extracted or had subtle hints of honey roasted almonds on the back palate… And yet I find myself working at Commonfolk Coffee Company.
Having been a customer for years, I knew that Commonfolk was special. You could feel the smiles of staff when they served your food, or joked with each other behind the bar. Although, being on the flip side of that gives you a whole new understanding of just why they’re smiling in the first place.
I feel lucky, and to be honest extremely honoured, to be a part of this unique family. It’s a place that brings together the best of the best. Whether that be speciality coffee (which, you’ll be glad to know, I’m starting to get my head around), customers, staff, or artists. Each element is particular to Commonfolk and helps to make it one of the most talked about cafés on the Peninsula.
However, such rare environments are not simply created overnight. From my very first interview, I began to understand the hard work and shear dedication that everyone, from the owners to the employees, pour into Commonfolk. It would hold a special place in anyone’s heart if they managed to convert an old Limestone Processing Plant into a warm and welcoming environment for all… And that’s exactly why Commonfolk is the (not so) hidden gem that it is.
From day dot, it has always been about improving and being innovative with what we do.
We, being the key word. I don’t use the term family lightly, but it’s hard not to when I feel as valued as I do at Commonfolk. Suddenly I had a manager who would invite me over for wine and cheese, and bosses who were interested in my future career plans. In my final interview, Ben Hogan said to me ‘People never really leave Commonfolk, they may physically leave to do bigger and better things… But they’re always part of this family’.
That was the moment I realised this was the place for me.
It could just be a café. It could just be a 9-5 job. It could just do the bare minimum and still be successful. But Commonfolk does so much more than that.
In an initiative called The Cup that Counts (https://www.commonfolkcoffee.com.au/the-cup-the-counts/) 20c from every coffee sold at Commonfolk goes towards the Zukuka Bora Coffee Company which helps to fund training, provide infrastructure and deliver equipment to local Ugandan farmers. Do they stop there, I hear you asking? Of course not.
Commonfolk then purchases this high-grade coffee (because it’s tastes damn delicious) to further promote ethical coffee trade.
As just one of the many initiatives that Commonfolk supports, The Cup That Counts further drew me into their social justice vision to be more than just a café.
Yes, it took me a while to learn all the regular’s names, or to work out that Peter and Irene don’t like their muffins heated up, or that Lachy needs his Salmon Bagel on a plate rather than a bowl.
However, if you look past these idiosyncrasies, you’ll see that this care is taken because we look after our customers like they are part of the family too. It’s not just a workplace, for many it’s a home away from home.
I look forward to chatting to the Chef’s about the new menu, I’ve even grown to look forward to closing up on a Monday where you have the floor clean the entire café…
Why? Because I love every, single moment that I get to spend with these legends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Van Vliet joined the Commonfolk family in early 2018 as a front of house superstar. She's now travelling the world on a gap year before returning to study something really impressive at uni in 2019.