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Good coffee, made right

11 Nov 2020

Good coffee, made right Image

By Maeve Bannister

Tired of their experiences in the hospitality industry where bosses cut corners to make profits at the expense of their staff and customers, James Pettenon, better known as “Chooka”, and Fintan Redmond decided they could do better.

“Our experience in hospitality was working for a few companies of different sizes that had done things in a very similar way where profit and financial gain was the bottom line,” Chooka said.

“We looked at ourselves and looked at the way the businesses had been run and thought we could definitely do it better, we could do it more ethically, we could treat people better, we could treat our suppliers and our staff better, and we could do things in a much more sustainable and ethical way.”

The result is Head Honcho Coffee Brewers, a new café on Chatham St in Prahran which opened mid-October.

“Our motto is ‘good coffee, made right’ with the word ‘good’ meaning not just a good cup of coffee, but also it’s been sourced really well,” Chooka said.

“So yes profit, obviously, is needed for us to be an ongoing business, but the bottom line for us is providing a product that the customer can feel great about where they’re getting their coffee from.”

The remarkable thing about Chooka and Fintan is not only that they managed to start a business in 2020, but that they are both just 22 years old.

“[Owning a business] was something that I kind of always had on my to-do list and it was very much something in the long-term plan, maybe when I was 50 and had a bit of money behind me,” Chooka said.

“But I’m very glad that Fintan brought the idea forward, and we started taking it seriously because now we’ve got this tangible thing that is running the way we want.”

Chooka has also been studying a Bachelor of Photography at Photography Studies College (PSC) in the Montague Precinct of South Melbourne.

PSC photography students are encouraged to work and even run a business while completing their degrees.

Chooka said the first weekend Head Honchos was open for business, it was amazing to see so many PSC staff and students who showed their support.

“The flexibility with the degree has been amazing, and so many of my cohort and lecturers and even the PSC librarian has come down to check us out,” he said.

Something Chooka and Fintan were keen to foster at Head Honchos was a personable atmosphere and energy that made people feel welcome.

“If someone isn’t in a rush, we’re happy to have a chat to them for 20 minutes and we’re very much enjoying getting to know all the locals,” Chooka said.

“We’re absolutely loving it and every time a customer walks out we just kind of turn to each other and are stoked that they’ve come in and keep coming back, it’s awesome.” •

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