Do not let the bearded backwards baseball cap-wearing barista fool you – Vvaldmeer in Highgate Hill is not just another hipster coffee shack.

If the smell of freshly roasted caffeine does not draw you into the newly opened Gladstone Road café, then the billboard perched on the pavement announcing its ‘sausage of the week’ will. High ceilings, timber tables and fiddly figs frame the bright, airy café, creating a comfortable, minimal and relaxing space. The German narrative carved by the name (‘Wald’ is German for forest, and ‘meer’ for sea) stems from time abroad, and the heritage of co-owner Alex Kathage.

That bearded barista is fellow owner Cam Milne, with the duo having originally bonded over a love of coffee while studying at university – Alex battling Biomedical Science and Accounting degrees, and Cam studying music. With Alex now working in public health, the long-time housemates opened their own place on the Prospect Terrace corner, serving up good food, great coffee, and one day soon, pouring drinks, with the shop’s liquor license expected to be approved later this year.

Head chef Amos Ilet, with roots in Netherworld, Billykart and Balfour kitchens, has crafted an interesting menu with fellow chef Liam.

The menu is laden with delights like the black rice porridge with season fruit, or the hot smoked salmon with spiced pea pancake, mustard greens and smoked labne, and café staple, the avocado on sourdough with smoked labne, fermented chilli and basil oil (with a side of house smoked bacon highly recommended).

“We’re working on fleshing out the menu at the moment,” said Cam, over a piping hot fresh brew. “I think we’re up to menu number five? Each time we change a few things, or change a couple of dishes, we put a new number on the menu. We’ve also been doing sausage of the week – Amos and Liam make their own sausages.”
This week’s sausage? A pork fermented chilli and coffee, served with a cranberry and bunya nut slaw. “Every time they make a new one, it’s better than the last one.”

More importantly, Cam tells us about the coffee.

“We have two house blends. There’s Saint by Cleanskin on the north side. That’s kind of our milk blend, it’s a chocolate-y full bodied kind of coffee. Then we have our second blend Forest Sea. It’s a custom blend made for us by First Fruits Coffee, a roaster on the Gold Coast. They made that for us, and it’s a lighter fruiter coffee, more targeted to black coffee.”

Vvaldmeers environmental conscious is clear, boasting a sustainable philosophy that extends to all areas of the business.

“We’re pretty much entirely paperless. All our dockets are either texted or emailed to our customers. The kitchen has its own iPad to get the orders on. We use all BioPak packaging which is recyclable, and we don’t use any plastic or excess packaging. We do a KeepCup discount, and have just started doing a BYO coffee bean containers discount too, if people want to buy our house blend. We’re trying to use as many suppliers as well that are environmentally responsible.”

The team also work with Loop Growers, a Maleny-based compost and nutrition exchange program, where organic waste (think coffee grind, food waste, and even steamed milk) is taken to regional farms to be used as compost and chicken feed, fertilising the gardens that grow a Vvaldmeers produce.

With a set dining experience expected to take form in the next few months, Vvaldmeer is forging new territory, focused on “doing what feels right, and producing what tastes good”. Simple.

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