Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A new Australian-themed rolling cafe will be coming to Victoria’s Clover Point Park


Victoria’s already bright and bold coffee scene is about to have a welcome new addition along Dallas Road at Clover Point Park. 

The Off-Grid Camper Cafe is a coffee house on wheels that’s been back and forth between Port Alberni and Victoria since its launch in August 2021. 

Partners in life and business, Jacob Francis and Ella Downing wanted to build a business venture of their own, but they wanted to do it in their own way. 

Francis is from Australia and he wanted to introduce Vancouver Islanders to a taste of how coffee is done where he is from.

“Australians are very particular about their espresso coffee,” Francis told Victoria Buzz. “That’s your flat whites and you cappuccinos, we take a lot of pride in that style of coffee.”

“It originated in Italy obviously, but we’ve kind of taken it in our own direction to bring out the best in the beans.”

The OG Camper Cafe say they typically use a medium-roast from Tofino Coffee Roasting Company, they have an intricate water filtration system onboard the cafe van so the water they use compliments the coffee perfectly and they hand-press every shot of espresso they pull. 

“[Hand-pressed espresso] is something we chose to do, due to the amount of control that you can have as a barista, in producing a shot. Basically, there’s a lot more decision making in the process and as a result, you can get a better cup of coffee.”

In addition to hand-pressed coffee being more refined taste-wise, it also uses considerably less energy to make which is good for the camper van the cafe operates out of and for the environment. 

Francis said he managed to get a battery sponsorship in order to connect with a custom solar panel system he’s built in order to be as sustainable as possible. 

“Ever since the business was envisioned, it was to be 100% off-grid,” said Francis. “The goal has always been to be run off solar and powered by batteries.”

While Francis takes care of the coffee side of the business, Downing takes care of the vegan treats, baked goods and the mugs and coffee wares that OG Camper Cafe sell through her business, Lentil Kitchen

“My girlfriend’s brand is Lentil Kitchen and she makes ceramics,” said Francis. “Pottery mugs and cups, that sort of thing.”

“So we’re going to do our own in-house baked goods and they’ll be to the theme of Australian baking.”

“Classic cakes that we enjoy in Australia — we’ll do Anzac biscuits, Lamingtons, yo-yos, that sort of stuff.”

Right now there is only one OG Camper Cafe. Francis said he is working on getting a second built but for now he and Downing will just be operating out of the original.

They will be using a commissary kitchen in Fairfield to make all their Australian baked goods and they are moving from Port Alberni to Victoria in order to make their business endeavor work.

The OG Camper Cafe will be a welcome addition to Victoria’s coffee scene when they park the van at Clover Point Park. 

Francis anticipates it will be here in Victoria and ready to caffeinate Victorians on the weekend of February 11th/12th, although he and Downing still have some final hoops to jump through in order to be ready to open by then.

He and Downing expect they will be busy from the get-go and he hopes Francis hopes to be able to provide some much needed jobs to Victorian baristas looking to pull espresso shots from a cozy van at Clover Point Park as well as the odd market and event throughout the city.

Curtis Blandy

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