Harsh Mehta spent seven years treating his café shifts like business owner bootcamp. He used those years as a training ground, learning and growing as much as he could in preparation for the café he knew he would open one day. He developed skills in every area of hospitality but it was behind the coffee machine that he felt the most at home.
His hard work paid off. In 2014, Harsh opened Coffylosophy, Hutt Street’s first café with a focus on specialty coffee. While he was proud to own his own business, Harsh says that’s not what he was most excited about in the early days.
“Coffee was my passion. To have an actual shop front and spread my passion for coffee to other people and make them aware that there’s great coffee available and they don’t have to go far for it – opening Coffylosophy was like a dream come true,” he explains.
And Hutt Street locals were more than happy to be part of Harsh’s dream. Coffylosophy’s clientele grew quickly and the café became the nieghbourhood’s go-to for a beautiful coffee. Today, many of those first customers are still regulars – partly because they’re hooked on Coffylosophy’s cuppa and partly because the café quickly starts feeling like a second home to customers.
Harsh explains that Hutt Street is already a tight-knit community. People that live and work locally get to know each other and there’s a supportive neighbourhood feel to the area. It’s so welcoming, supportive and encouraging, Harsh’s enthusiasm for running his business hasn’t wavered in the slightest.
He says, “I love that I wake up in the morning and I want to go to work. I look forward to seeing all the friendly faces again. My days are filled with happiness and banter and people leaving the café with a smile on their face.”
Genuine, casual customer service has become a given at Coffylosophy. But Harsh believes that even the most foundational values of his business need to be acknowledged day after day, in everything he and his staff do. Every day, Harsh challenges himself to meet his customer’s expectations and make each time the visit better than the last.
And he does. Most importantly, he’s worked hard to create a positive environment for his small team of long-time front-of-house staff. In the back-of-house, Coffylosophy chef Drew Akin, keeps customers well-fed with a menu that marries classic Aussie eats with a hint of Southern American flavour. Originally from Alabama in the USA, Drew develops Coffylosophy’s ever-evolving menu with this cross-cultural influence. Harsh gives Drew creative freedom in the kitchen, encouraging him to “put himself on a plate” and change things up as often as he likes.
Harsh explains that another crucial part of meeting and exceeding expectations is professional development on his part as head barista. When Coffylosophy opened, Adelaide’s coffee scene was a bit behind some of its capital city counterparts. Over the last few years, as the city café culture has grown and evolved, Harsh has managed to stay ahead of the curve.
Like his early days working in the hospitality industry, Harsh continues to treat every day behind the coffee machine as training. While he finds the gorgeous Melbourne-roasted Veneziano four-bean blend he favours to be fairly inspiring, that level of conviction could be difficult to maintain. To keep it going, Harsh regularly enrols in the country’s top barista champion competitions.
“It forces me to put myself out there. When you have a competition coming up, it makes you work harder and try to become better. It forces you to find new ways to highlight the coffee you’re making at the café every day,” he says.
Not only does Harsh’s commitment to professional development result in excellent coffee, it’s also led to innovation. Coffylosophy has perfected four different brewing methods, including the popular cold-drip method that brews coffee over a period of 15 hours.
Harsh has built a place that people can rely on. No matter how easy he makes it all look, everything from Coffylosophy’s consistently excellent service to the constantly evolving offering is the result of hard work. Day in, day out, cup after steaming cup.
198A Hutt Street, Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8227 1860