The Jack of Hearts and Jude: a cafe with a conscience
Author | Courtney Turner
For an establishment that seems to belong in the trendy streets of Melbourne, it’s hard to believe that The Jack of Hearts and Jude has made its way into the unassuming town of Engadine, but hey, we aren’t complaining.
Upon entering this quirky, family-run space, one may be forgiven for thinking that they had stepped back in time; quaint floral bunting, waist-clinched retro dresses and dainty tea-cups are all the rage. On the counter, a multitude of homemade cakes and biscuits tempt customers from a top their shiny glass stands. You might even go so far as to say that this little gem is the Wonderland of the café world!
Clearly caffeine, cakes and cute décor make for a very inviting place to spend the afternoon, but it isn’t just the relaxed vibe and friendly service that make this café so special. The Jack of Harts and Jude is also one of the only cafes in the area actively engaging in sustainable food practices.
Sourcing much of their produce locally, the ever-changing meals at The Jack of Harts are based on the best – and often most unusual – seasonal fruit and veggies available. Generous servings of delicious, free-range organic eggs dominate the menu, all of which are locally sourced from a family-run farm on the south coast of NSW. So, what motivated this tiny business to make the bold decision to source their produce locally?
Café owner Rhys said he is particularly conscious of supporting local farms and growers and always attempts to seek out the highest quality produce available. “We get our eggs from a farm in Gerringong. They’ve got about 80 rare breads of chickens that aren’t commercially profitable because they have to run around, exercise and might only lay every three days. But the eggs are just better, and you can tell. They cost a lot more money, but they just taste better.”
Arguably, the café’s most notable sustainable practice is their approach to coffee, which they source locally and roast in store. “I think the biggest thing that we’re doing is our coffee. We’ve completely gone against the grain and we buy all our coffee from Australian farms. And what we grow here is world class. It hasn’t travelled half way around the world to get here. It’s just come down from Byron Bay or Cairns and that’s how it should be. It grows, the farmers cure it, and we roast it and that’s it. There’s no middle man.”
Ethical and environment issues are also a concern for the friendly folk at the Jack of Harts, who are well-informed about what goes on behind the scenes of the billion-dollar Coffee industry. “People are importing beans from Africa or South America. They’re third world countries so the coffee’s cheap. It travels half way around the world to get here. Everything that comes into this country is methyl bromide fumigated and usually sterilized in a reaction chamber. You can’t get around that. It makes a mockery of selling organic coffee from Brazil or Ethiopia.”
After talking to Rhys over a pot of tea (from the Daintree, of course, with honey harvested by a local bee-keeper), it becomes obvious that the Jack of Hearts and Jude really is a café with a conscience. So the question remains, what does the future hold for the tiny café that packs a punch?
Well, if research, development and funding weren’t an issue, we would most likely be seeing a new and innovative coffee roaster in use at the Jack of Harts sometime in the near future. “In my head I’ve designed a coffee roaster, a commercial and industrial coffee roaster that runs on solar power and café scraps. It works, but I need to get it built. It costs money to do that sort of thing, and you need research and development.” Well, we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled, but as for now, a pot of tea and a slice of cake will do just nicely.