Islington's hole-in-the-wall cafe
There’s a little hidden gem in Islington that has become locals best-kept secret, but we're here to let you all in on it. Located in the beautiful old Wool Sheds, is the hole-in-the-wall café space, Milford Espresso.
Run by Newcastle born and bred local, Vanessa and her family, Milford Espresso has been quietly brewing up a storm for their loyal customers since early 2018.
With a vast background in hospitality and retail, Vanessa finally jumped back into the world of cafes when she laid eyes on the vacant spot on Milford Street.
“It was vacant for a few months when we drove past one day. We knew instantly it was right. There are 96 units in the building and it’s just a really lovely community,” Vanessa said.
The building itself is worth talking about. The conversion saw the 1940’s Winchcombe Carson Woolstores into 96 Industrial Chic warehouse apartments. The heritage-listed site has been brought back to present life with its contemporary design.
“Everyone who lives in the building chose here for a purpose. It’s a secure building, it’s a gorgeous building and a lot of people are here because of the style of the building; but we’re all ultimately here for security.”
When COVID-19 hit, Vanessa questioned whether to close the doors, but working hard to get the space to a bustling coffee hub she decided to ride it out.
“With everyone working from home people still need their coffee and they need to be fed! We started doing homemade meals and they’ve just been walking out the door.”
Alongside the homemade meals, Vanessa has also been offering flat rate coffees for $4. Sorry, what? Does that mean I can order a large soy caramel latte for just $4? You betcha!
Speaking of coffee, the team use Gusto Mañana beans from Seven Miles Coffee Roasters. Love it so much? Pick yourself up a bag to take home with you.
Being zoned as a cornerstone, the cafe space also works as the building's very own spot for last minute essentials. The shelves are stocked with bread, milk, fruit, and even toilet paper!
“We’re actually zoned as a corner store, so we have certain products for sale. That way people in the building can come down and pick up those essentials.”
Another exciting isolation addition to Milford Espresso is the arrival of many lush green plants from We Grow Plants. With eating in being almost impossible for the small space, Vanessa saw an opportunity to collaborate with another small business.
“Jilliana pulled up the front one morning to deliver plants to residents in the building. She opened up the back of the truck and it was just beautiful. I went out and just got talking to her and she told me that they had grown all of this Devil’s Ivy for the Australian Open and had a whole greenhouse full of it.
“I just suggested that I could try and sell some of it for her. In the first week, I sold 13 and from there we decided to sell more with more of a variety. Each week, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger and bigger.”
For the past two months, the café nursery has been getting weekly deliveries of all the lush greenery you could want to get your hands on, with people literally queuing up to get their hands on the much-loved goodies from We Grow Plants.
“I couldn’t have people sitting in here, so it’s been a good use of space. People are now coming in to buy plants and picking up a coffee whilst they’re here; it’s a win-win situation.
“They’re just such beautiful people and it’s happened so organically. Neither of us were looking for a collaboration, it just sort of happened.”
The two businesses plan to continue their collaboration post-COVID-19 so don’t stress about getting in quick to get your plant fix.