Shanny Sena and Tom Ervin-Ward are known to devoted regulars for their warm hospitality, inventive home-style cooking and passion for good coffee. Since launching the popular Elevenses in 2009 (originally in Kensington and later in Little Collins Street), the couple have maintained strong links and an unwavering loyalty to boutique coffee supplier Toby’s Estate. And with their new project, Naked Espresso Bar, they’ve extended the love to partner up with Toby’s Estate state sales manager Jason Berley.
The small shopfront is all naked bulbs, blonde wood and cheery, bright yellow walls. With tall windows out onto Little Bourke Street, the intimate space is well positioned for plenty of two-way people watching and perky customer interaction, which is just the way Sena and Ervin-Ward like it.
“We were keen to create a space where the service could be a real interaction between the customer and the barista, the server and even the kitchen staff,” says the bubbly Sena. Elevenses regulars will recall the many barista-versus-customer Scrabble challenges as case in point for the kind of communal embrace these guys seem to foster with their clientele. They know many customers by name and all comers are made to feel genuinely welcome.
The menu showcases the couple’s combined family heritage, with a uniquely Australian take on some classic German and Southern US-tinged flavours. Breakfast options like black forest waffles with morello cherry and chocolate syrup are complimented by Meemaw’s Southern-style granola, studded with peach and pecan. However, most regulars know that it’s the sandwiches for which these guys have garnered their acclaim. Think peach and bourbon roasted pork neck with BBQ sauce on sourdough, or the Roo-ben, a twist on the New York classic Rueben sandwich, this time with the truly Aussie addition of roasted kangaroo alongside sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and rye.
Biscuits and muffins are all made in-house while the impressive array of brightly hued macarons come from the highly rated LuxBite.
The full-bodied house blend and a rotating roster of single origins are all (naturally) from Toby’s Estate, yet in an impressive gesture of respect, the filter brews are sourced from local roaster Market Lane. Equal reverence is extended to third-wave brewing techniques and coffee geeks will be more than happy with the range of pour over, aeropress and syphon options.