Like Minds at Avoca is so much more than a café.
Like the general store before it, it has been created with the needs of the community at its core.
When that community is made up of a diverse mix including Coasties, city-slickers, families, retirees, hipsters, digital nomads and newcomers, it’s all about providing a meeting place to connect, according to owner Melissa Morgan.
She has been running the café with partner Jimmy Rolph for three years.
It delights them no end that their corner store has become a ‘local’ for so many people – a true community hub.
“We’ve seen friendships develop here. It’s all about comfort, connection and collaboration, especially for new people. It’s a place to share stories over coffee,” Melissa said.
So conscious that you’re more likely to see locals take a bacon and egg roll on a plate than in a bag, and there are no straws – not of the plastic kind anyway.
Like Minds uses washable stainless steel straws, gives free coffee to customers who use keep cups, and every now and then Mel has to go door knocking to retrieve the plates and mugs they’ve sent home with neighbours in lieu of takeaway cups or plates.
You won’t find plastic containers or bags at Like Minds either, and when they can’t avoid a bit of plastic, like with milk cartons, they upcycle them into art. Look up to see the striking cloud-like sculpture of cartons by local artist Jane Gillings.
Thanks to the couple’s concerted efforts to recycle and compost, the café runs on zero food and coffee waste.
The garden thrives on crushed up egg shells and coffee grains and any excess food waste is either taken home to feed the family chooks or managed by a collective of locals who take turns making use of it on their own gardens.
The bins at the front aren’t out for the garbos, they’re worm farms.
Jimmy and Melissa have big sustainability dreams including to make Avoca, and the Coast, the compost capital of the world.
The recycling ethos runs right throughout the cafe with the menu only offering a handful of staple items.
The rest is decided each day depending on what’s leftover or what’s in the garden.
One of the overall-clad young locals that Mel has been mentoring in the kitchen has been making the most of the thriving sage to make gnocchi; when kale is abundance, expect to see green fritters on offer; and if farmer Kev from Peats Ridge has done his fortnightly delivery, his organic lemons will be evident throughout the café’s dishes – whether it’s their zest or juice or both.
The cooking is all about whole foods, unrefined, unprocessed and nothing goes to waste.
The key is that it’s made with love. Mel cooks with intention.
Her onion bhaji are inspired by her travels and made with love to nurture you; her mung bean dish is filled with love, to make you feel happy; and even her paleo loaf, lovingly made with almond flour, cashew butter and turmeric, will give you the warm and fuzzies.
Meanwhile the café’s garden has become a real labour of love for Jimmy, who is learning about permaculture when he’s not manning the coffee machine.
The garden hogs the lion’s share of the café’s yard with everything from turmeric to kaffir lime, curry leaf, tarragon and coriander all sleeping in the garden beds.
You don’t have to look far to see the fragrant and flavoursome herbs and spices at work. The café’s turmeric latte is so delicious and comforting it’s like a hug from your best friend.
Jimmy, who has worked behind many coffee machines in cafes across the Coast, and Mel, who was taught how to cook by her mum, prove you don’t need university degrees and Michelin stars to create amazing food. You just need good intentions, and like minds.