hey brew : buck hamblin


Luke from Buck Hamblin in Thirroul

How was Buck Hamblin born?
The current iteration of Buck Hamblin happened almost by accident! My wife and I were looking to move from Sydney to the Coal Coast for some (slightly) more affordable housing. We drove past the building and my wife thought it would be perfect for a cafe... that was on a Saturday, and the following Tuesday it came on the market for the first time ever. The property was owned by the same family since it was built. The stars aligned and the next thing we knew we'd bought a shop and were planning to open a cafe!

Why the name Buck Hamblin?
Buck's has been a part of Thirroul for as long as anyone can remember. Opening as a shoe store in 1940, Albert 'Buck' Hamblin was the first of three generations to call this building home. You'd be hard pressed to find locals who hadn't bought their school shoes here, who can affectionately remember the pink and green shelves and floor tiles. With so much history in a somewhat preserved state (it was closed for 15 years), we figured it was only right to keep the name and rebuild the shop using as much of the original fit-out as we could.

Your menu is small but quality – how did you create it?
The menu is an ever-evolving list of fresh, simple but interesting food. While we don't strictly fall into the 'whole foods' category, most things on the menu are locally-sourced, wholesome meals that taste great while being nutritious at the same time. I guess it ends up being a good overview of the foods I like eating.

What brand of coffee do you serve?
We proudly serve Marvell Street Coffee Roasters, which is sourced internationally and roasted up in Byron Bay. I knew I wanted to serve the type of coffee that I like to drink, and so Marvell Street was one of the first calls I made. It's a sweet and clean coffee with all of the good flavours. Nico (owner at Marvell Street) and I share a lot of the same ideas about coffee and service, so it seemed a natural fit. They roast coffee with such a relentless pursuit of quality that makes using it a real pleasure. There are a few places that serve their coffee in Sydney, but none in Wollongong so it's a nice point of difference.

What’s the secret to a perfect brew?
I think the days of secrecy in coffee are long gone – these days, most places are making coffee to recipes for repeatability and consistency, just like baking a cake. So I think the biggest difference in what gets served lies in how much your barista cares. Find yourself a barista who cares about their job and you should be getting the good stuff.

If you buy coffee from another spot in the Illawarra, where do you go?
I used to have a list of places I'd be itching to check out, but now I live my life in a cafe so my days off are usually spent with the family steering clear of cafes. But the top of the list would be the guys at Goodies in Wollongong. I'd then go to Son of a Gun and Opus while I was there.

it was only right to keep the name and rebuild the shop using as much of the original fit-out as we could