It was a long and quite literally tiresome road for friends Jenna Sandham and Adrian Maher when they quit their city jobs to start up a cafe. Before launching Heresy, which opened in April, they each spent more than a year driving Ubers to raise some of the start-up cash.

The pair met in the army, stationed at Victoria Barracks on St Kilda Road. After moving into their respective CBD office jobs, they continued to meet. Over coffee and breakfast they fantasised about how they could do it better. Eventually, the idea moved beyond mere talk.

“Adrian came to me and said that we had the okay from our investors and that it was now or never,” says Sandham, describing the moment when she left her job as a marketing manager at The Emerson and plunged into the precarious waters of cafe ownership.

The tiny 10-seat Heresy, on Equitable Place, was originally the building’s loading dock. The pair unearthed an old service elevator after completely stripping the space down, gaining an extra two-and-a-half meters as a result. “The motor is still up there,” says Maher.

A large mirror, thunderstone counter, Tasmanian oak benchtops and loads of indoor plants are the standout features in the stylish grab-and-go space. There’s also a white neon sign reading: “We’ll turn you on” that greets you as you walk in through the retractable bi-folding door. “We tried to keep it really minimal,” says Sandham.

Food is prepared off-site at Silverlake Social in Prahran, where they rent kitchen space for chef Chris “Chips” Chaperon, who starts preparing meals at 3am each weekday morning for Maher to pick up on his way in.

Breakfast includes the K.I.S.S (“Keep it Simple Stupid”), with baked egg, feta, cherry tomatoes and basil. Or, you can opt for one of the two cylindrical Tupperware pods: one with coconut vanilla and raspberry chia pudding, fruit and yoghurt, the other with blueberries, coconut-soaked oats, raspberry chia, coconut yoghurt, toasted nuts and berries. Sandham and Maher encourage people to bring back the containers for reuse.

For lunch there are four salads to pick from: buckwheat tabouli; roast pumpkin and chickpea: African dukkah sweet potato with teff; and a salad of the day. And you can add a protein, which changes every week. There’s also a soup of the day or a heartier barbeque pulled lamb slider with spinach and potato in a Dench Bakers sourdough roll.

Sandham and Maher discovered their coffee roaster, Tullamarine-based Rosso Roasting Co, while they were Uber-driving. “Adrian and I would rendezvous at Entrecôte South Yarra regularly after our morning drive because we loved the coffee,” says Sandham. “It was only after drinking it [Rosso] for several months that we enquired who they used.”

They also serve one other coffee on rotation every few weeks – currently Market Lane’s Colombian La Loma, which they serve filtered, black and batch brewed in a one-litre pot. They’ll even fill it into your BYO mug if you ask them.

Heresy
26/10 Equitable Place, Melbourne

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm