Coffee Culture: Get to Know the Friendly Face Behind Your Morning Fix

Cafes may be the backbone of modern society but have you ever wondered what’s going on beyond the counter?

Here, in partnership with our good friends at Allpress Espresso, we chat with the friendly faces at a few of our fave independent cafes about the grit of the grind and discover the grounding rituals of the grindmasters and pastry wizards who put a pep in our step every morning. 


Harleigh Reimer – Owner

My dream was to create a little oasis to call my own, anchor myself to Brisbane while travelling was off the cards, and try to do business my way. I decided to combine two things I love: coffee and plants, and build a place that not only looked beautiful but felt beautiful being there. 

But when epilo became a favourite meeting place, a weekend destination, a study haven, a daily ritual, I didn’t (and still don’t!) quite believe it. Each time someone walks into my store, I am humbled that they have taken the time to stop by to see the unexpected little green space on Deshon Street.

For me, epilo is not just a job or just a coffee shop. It has also become my home. An open space for anyone to enjoy, somewhere to meet someone new or learn something new. Every morning when I pull up the heavy roller door I’m excited about who I’m going to meet and what the day will bring. This is what drives me!

When I first opened epilo, I wrote a note on a scrap piece of paper and stuck it to the fridge: “Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued and appreciated.” We always welcome conversations, friendship, jokes, a quiet sanctuary and a shoulder if you’re having a rough day. This has been an important philosophy at epilo and I think our desire to form meaningful relationships has created the most amazing community – people who, in turn, are kind, generous and honest.

When I first opened epilo, I wrote a note on a scrap piece of paper and stuck it to the fridge: “Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued and appreciated.”

My own personal community is also made up of incredibly supportive people. My dad, brother and I built the fit-out of epilo and transformed it from an old mechanic shed to a green oasis. My mum works in the store with me every week and shares her boundless wisdom from plant care to cleaning tips. The team working at epilo are selfless, kind and dutiful, and my friends are always ready to step in for a shift if we need extra hands. I don’t think I have ever felt as supported as I do right now. 

I work at the store almost every day, so I usually wake up and throw on a pair of overalls, then head to the shop and open up the big roller door (if I can squeeze in a coffee for myself first, it’s a good day!). The day is always busy, between making coffees, serving up toasties or homemade sweets, chatting with new customers and getting the goss from our regulars, helping someone choose a new plant to take home or to gift to a friend, and preparing for our evening workshops and classes.

Because I spend so much time at the shop, taking time for myself is important. A slow morning alone with a cappuccino and my journal is my idea of happiness. Tending to my plants at home in the afternoon light. And travel. Lots of travel. 

READ MORE: Can Your Morning Routine Make You a Better Person?


Switch Stephens – Owner

The ethos around Skull Trash is actually creating a space for the alternative community. We can be looked upon as intimidating, out there, the outcasts of society. I really wanted it to be a place where anyone can come and feel comfortable – even if they are not part of the alternative community. No one is judged. At Skull Trash you are welcomed as you are.

I was inspired to create a safe place for the weird alt kids. There was nothing like this around; no place for people to hang out that really allowed them to be themselves. I wanted a non-judgemental environment. Seeing that it’s working keeps me going. People from all around Victoria and all around the world, are coming to experience something that was missing in society. 

At Skull Trash you are welcomed as you are.

The community that’s built up around me is going global, thanks to TikTok – there is a community of people who share the message of acceptance among the strangeness of reality.

We have two different types of customers – the locals because we have the best coffee in Fitzroy obviously and then others who come just to chat to talk punk and ELO and all in between. And the online community is growing – every day there are people all over the world wanting this type of place to be in their country. Hopefully, this can start a revolution. 


Jonny Pisanelli – Head Pastry Chef

I feel the ethos for Hinchcliff House is properly aligned with my own: to add value and leave our customers with a pleasant, memorable experience after visiting – whether it’s a great coffee or pastry in the morning at Bar Mammoni (in my case), a quick work lunch or group dinner at Grana, a special occasion at Lana or a few cheeky cocktails at Apollonia. 

I’m quite spoiled because, on every floor of Hinchcliff House, I’m surrounded by a team of people who take their job seriously. There’s always someone I draw inspiration from, as they themselves are always striving to be the best they can be in their area. Whether it’s the bar team working on a new cocktail – which gives me ideas for a sweet flavour combination – or a chef’s new dish that I’ll draw inspiration from for a savoury Danish, there’s always that positive feedback and help from someone which always brings the best out of me. I feel that, while everyone has their role to play, there’s always a sense of teamwork in all areas of Hinchcliff that helps us grow together as a team.

There’s always someone I draw inspiration from, as they themselves are always striving to be the best they can be in their area.

I always fill my own cup with filter coffee to start the day at Bar Mammoni. I’ll then have a single-origin espresso at This Way Canteen, followed by a filter to keep me going throughout the day. Depending on the day, I can start anywhere between 3.30am and 7.30am. I’ll normally help with the pastry baking, garnishing and finishing before I start processing my croissant lamination. I’ll then go for a stroll up to our newest store, This Way Canteen, and check in on the doughnut production. Back to Hinchcliff house, I’ll process mille feuille for Grana, some savoury tarts for a new menu option at Lana, or maybe a range of mini sweet pastries for a breakfast function we have on Level 2 for a client. Lots of walking, lots of communication and moving parts between all venues, but never a dull moment.