For Johneey Hoek, coffee is generally black, strong and a stimulant to keep him awake during his long shifts as a nurse. “Mate. Don’t get me started on hospital coffee,” Hoek laughs. “I always give them the chance. And I instantly regret it.”
Away from the hospital, Hoek was looking for a next step. A growing passion for coffee and some wisdom gleaned from shadowing his local baristas provided the clues; a conversation with good friend Ilana Nathan offered the answer. Nathan is a coffee nut just like Hoek, and together they figured out a way to make their passion tangible.
Drake Street Coffee is the result. A small oasis amid the sprawl of the Montague Road side of West End, it occupies a space below Nathan’s parents’ Queenslander, spreading out onto the shady front lawn come Saturday and Sunday mornings.
“West End is the perfect example of a suburb where cafes open and close every week,” Nathan says. “This is a chance for us to test it out, use a local coffee supplier who we like and just see what works.”
It’s a communal affair with a few pallet tables and milk crates scattered around the yard, and locals wandering in off the street to grab their caffeine fix. There’s a small table of sweets from local bakeries, and bags of coffee to take home.
Beans come from Black Ink Coffee, a relationship that was formed after Hoek spent some time photographing for owner Cameron Smith at the Coopers Plains roastery. “[The coffee is] roasted on Monday, and we have it by the weekend — you get that peak period [between eight and 20 days] when the beans are best,” says Hoek. “It’s local and it’s fresh.”