Maddison Kellie answers to Head Flora Flower and Badass Barista Sister at Flora by Greenhouse – a bustling vegan cafe (and sister to the Greenhouse Canteen restaurants) on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We grabbed Maddison between shifts to hear her thoughts on sustainability, plant-based food and why she feels like she teleports to work.
5.30am // If I’m opening up I’ll hear my alarm shouting at me now. I always lie for a minimum of five minutes before I roll up to the basin and splash my face with freezing cold water a few times just to bring myself to my senses – if I didn’t do it I’d probably still think I was living in the day before. It’s like the power to the adapter. I ALWAYS have my work outfit ready the night before so I don’t make any weird decisions when I’m still half asleep. I walk down the stairs like a person who’s never seen stairs before because it’s pitch black and lights on = angry roomies who are all sound asleep. I’ll sip some water and only water, because food that early is just waaay too much for my tummy to handle, then grab the car keys and I’m off at 5:53am for a 6am start (I live super close). Some would say that’s pushing it for time but I say it’s living life on the edge.
6am // If I’m first one in I’ll turn on the lights and light the flame in the oven, lay the mats, line the bins then stand for minute because its early and sometimes I feel like I’ve teleported from bed to Flora and it sparks a slight head spin. Fate, luck and my best friend (one of the boss ladies) brought me to Flora – I’m still counting my lucky stars after becoming an actual part of the Greenhouse family. It’s my role to make plant-based food and coffee dreams come true, and I never knew you could love a job so much. A dairy-milk drinker recently came in and tried macadamia milk for the first time – she came back not long after and said “OMG that was delicious – I think I’m converted!” I love that I have the opportunity to alter someone’s perception on on the standard coffee-and-milk combo – makes me love what I do even more!
7am // We open now and usually a couple of morning walkers stumble through the doors for their caffeine injections. The coffee culture and level of quality food on the Gold Coast is forever growing – we’ve been in the restaurant game for a hot minute with Greenhouse Canteen, and now have three spaces serving up plant-based plates from 5pm six days a week, so it made sense to give the customers a spot to get their Greenhouse fix during the day. Our concept at Flora is to recreate all of your classic breakfast and deli favourites without any animal products.
8am // Around now the 9-to-5ers and the school drop-off fam come in, with every kid wanting a hot choco – made on coconut milk, raw cacao and maple syrup – for their morning pick-me-up. This is the time I’ll be trying to help someone pick what they should to take for their lunch – Flora has the philosophy of “anything you can do, we can do vegan”. We pride ourselves on being wholefood-heavy and tasty AF. We’re vegan for the people, for the planet and for the animals. If we, as humans, can effectively fuel and nourish our bodies without exploiting animals or destroying our planet through the consequences of mass farming, we reckon that’s the way to go. For us, what it comes down to is that in our day and age, people don’t need to eat animals or animal products to live healthy lives. We make everything onsite and with all the love we have – it’s the most fulfilling feeling seeing people enjoy the food we prepare and serve.
Operating a business in a sustainable way is a chance to circulate money in the direction that you want to see change.
9.30am // The lull usually hits now, before the lunch rush. We have customers that bring their own containers for take-away meals, and our takeaway goods are either GreenWare or BioPak. We give a discount to people who bring their own reusable cups and dine-in coffee is encouraged, and we’re creating our own reusable cups and tote bags. We’ve also implemented a compost initiative in which we give to a local community garden. I think operating a business in a sustainable way is a chance to circulate money in the direction that you want to see change. On a personal level, knowing I’m one less person using unnecessary single-use items is enough to make me feel like a good human being – and that I could be one person to influence others to do the same, and make this planet a brighter, better and more sustainable place.
2pm // Weekdays we shut at 2pm, and weekends at 3. The crowd varies in each – on weekdays people know what they want and there’s no mucking around – they’re in and out. Weekends are filled with a much more casual diner – they’ll bask in the sun, make multiple orders over a few hours and hang out. I love meeting so many different people from all walks of life and the regulars are probably one of my favourite parts about the coffee bizz – we have a few and they’re all so different from each other. We have young mums, men in their 30s grabbing food for work and schoolkids before they head in. Despite being considered a minority with our cuisine, we do appeal to the majority. We’re always humbled and grateful of community support because they aren’t just supporting Flora but supporting a movement. We love we can become someone’s home-from-home – and be a part of their morning ritual.
We’re always humbled and grateful of community support because they aren’t just supporting Flora but supporting a movement.