Ka-fey on Hunter Street combines Allpress Espresso with good vibes

Ka-fey family: Lucy Glover and Julian Ciabatti and their daughter Paisley.
Ka-fey family: Lucy Glover and Julian Ciabatti and their daughter Paisley.

Ka-Fey, 1/148 Hunter St. Mall, Newcastle. Sun-Wed: 7am-5pm, Thu-Sat: 7am-9pm.

Lucy Glover doesn’t sound like your ordinary café owner. It isn’t so much her Scottish lilt, or even the fact that it feels like she has all the time in the world to sit and talk. What stands out most about Lucy are the things that she says and, for her Hunter Street café, the ideas it was established to stand for.

At a time when a few of her neighbouring restaurants and bars are understandably up in arms about so much construction and disruption in the Newcastle CBD, Glover is quietly explaining to me that her café is focussed on community and being diversity friendly.

A few hours after I visited, Glover and her partner and head chef Julian Ciabatti were hosting a social event for lonely locals. It’s certainly not your everyday lunch booking. They have even designated especially comfortable chairs for her elderly customers.

 It all makes perfect sense, in a perfectly uncommon way. “We want everybody to feel as welcome as possible. We want to help the community around us,” Glover says.

Just as uncommon is their choice of coffee roaster.

Rather than listing fancy flavour notes about their coffee beans, the Sydney based Allpress Espresso is the kind of roastery that prefers to tell simple stories about the people who grow them. Currently pouring at Ka-Fey is a single origin from Brazil ($4.80) - a piquant, citrus sweet-tasting bean from the Irmas Pereira estate. It is a cup jammed with mandarin tanginess and 20 more flavours too intricate to recognise. When I turn to the label for assistance I find a different kind of insight – a little story about two young daughters, born poor on a coffee farm and then raised to cultivate the very beans that this cafe is now grinding.

We want everybody to feel as welcome as possible.

Ka-Fey owner Lucy Glover

That’s Allpress Espresso for you. A perfect coffee companion for an espresso bar like Ka-Fey.

But there are even more reasons why Ka-Fey is out of the ordinary.

Alongside their single origin is a Brazilian, Colombian and New Guinean house blend that is a richly textured, robust delight. Your latte ($3.80) will arrive with a shiny chestnut colour and a perfectly symmetrical rosetta pattern. The milk-based coffees are served strong unless ordered otherwise.

In another rarified gesture, the barista will even pour your coffee so that is still hot by the time you have finished it. An unusual experience indeed.

Ka-fey even has exotic species of coffee mixers in mind.

Dining customers can choose from a selection of liqueur coffees ($13 each) that would rarely make the menu in your everyday cafe.

Forget the standard Irish coffee. You can order The Kentucky, where your shot of espresso is layered with bourbon and honey. The Russian will do the same with vodka. The Friar’s will lace up your coffee shot with a handy helping of Frangelico. Or a shot of any liquor in your regular coffee (add $6), then Glover and Ciabatti are here to assist.

Uncommon, but certainly not unfriendly.