For many years now Victoria Park and, in particular, Albany Highway, has been going through a cultural shift that was always inevitable. The area has too much going for it to remain the home of used car yards and bad take-away food. The road runs close to the city, has good population density and is located near cultural hubs like Curtin University. All this potential is why Calvin and Dee Dee decided to open their first café in the area, although it is more than a café for the owners ? it is opening up a new life!
Calvin started out as a tea drinker working in Sales and Marketing in Malaysia. At the time his great passion was photography and he didn’t enjoy drinking coffee ? before moving to Australia that is! Whilst living in Malaysia he met Dee Dee, who was on holiday from studying in Perth. One thing led to another and Calvin ended up chasing her here (a familiar tale that hit close to home for me!) Initially he worked in fast food outlets, which was a struggle given his limited grasp of English. In the end, he moved on to work in a factory. At this point, Calvin says that he was directionless and fiercely unhappy; it is easy to see that this would be stiflingly oppressive given Calvin’s naturally positive attitude and high energy character.
So, to pull himself out of the rut, he started to renovate his home. Never having had any experience in this area, he quickly taught himself the skills required and got to work, learning more English along the way than most native speakers. When he was finished, he started looking around for the next challenge; he had fallen in love with coffee and decided that this was his calling. Calvin used his newly acquired building skills and got to work building a café — Sixteen Ounces! The fit-out looks great; the painted and exposed brick and varied furniture (as well as the moose head on the wall) makes this venue very warm and friendly.
It is an unusual to name a specialty coffee outlet Sixteen Ounces, and the name is made more ironic by the fact that they don’t stock a 16 ounce cup. The venue really specialises in coffee, so in Calvin’s words, “I would rather they walk away with an espresso and a bag of milk than make them a drink that big”. Actually the name has a deeper significance for this couple. Calvin was born on the 16th of July and was married on the 16th of November; to him the number 16 signifies the beginning of bigger things. He doesn’t want Sixteen Ounces to be limited in any way and he says that the business can go anywhere with hard work &mdash and I agree. I saw his hard working and confident persona when he bought his custom painted (green, white and grey to match the tiles) 3 group Synesso Hydra before he had locked away the café location! He admitted that he had made up his mind that he was starting his café — so he was sure he would need a machine! He spent hours of time at the Barista Academy and in his store practicing his shots and milk to make sure he had the perfect product when the doors opened.
At the moment, the staff are pumping out a changing house blend with a rotating single origin in the custom white Mazzer Roburs. When I was last there, he was running Crompton Road with the YirgZero in the single grinder. Over the next month or so, he is setting up his filter bar and introducing some bottled cold options. The kitchen is making some great food as well. Calvin has a strong emphasis on the quality of the product that he puts on the plate. I had some smashed avocado, vine ripened cherry tomato and poached eggs. A particular treat is the smoked streaky bacon though which, with my German heritage, I feel I am genetically predisposed to love!
Calvin’s next ambition is to be spoken about as serving the best coffee on Albany Highway, something that he is set up to achieve. I am looking forward to seeing the future of this (for now) little café!
257 Albany Highway,
Victoria Park, WA,6100
Monday ? Friday 6:30am ? 5:30pm
Saturday 8:00am ? 5:30pm
© Photos provided with permission by Matt O’Donohue from Abstract Gourmet. All rights reserved by photographer