Straight Up offer a welcoming space for breakfast and lunch, with a focus on providing fresh and wholesome food that is 100% gluten free and vegetarian menu. 

Our Interview

Originally published 14 August 2019 

In just a handful of weeks, Straight Up Coffee and Food will be turning 5. Hello Hobart went along to chat with the wonderful owners, Jess & Chicko, to find out more about their success into becoming an institution in our city. 

We will say it straight up…for anyone with food allergies, this café is for you! 

‘It was a big risk for us to open up a 100% gluten-free café. At the time gluten-free was not accepted like it is today, it was considered quite a niche’, said Chicko. 

‘We wanted to make a café that was safe for coeliacs. We had both worked in hospitality for a long time prior and had seen what often happens when people would ask for ‘gluten-free’ or other food allergy alterations. Often the utensils and equipment would all be co-mingled and it was almost a joke. You don’t get trained abut allergies as a chef, but we really took it seriously’, said Jess. 

Both Jess & Chicko are vegetarians and so the café is also 100% vegetarian and largely vegan too. They cater for all sorts of allergies, making their own almond milk and offering Mork hot chocolates for those who are dairy intolerant. The pair describe that people with allergies have come to trust the café and it is a big part of their success. 

A highlight though is the coffee that they roast themselves and the splendid gluten-free bread. The duo started the café so you could see the bread being made and the coffee being roasted right before your eyes. ‘Initially this was a key component of the café, but over the 5 years we have had more and more demand for our baked products and coffee, so we have moved this offsite to Moonah. We still create a vibe here though that would be the same as if you ate at our house.’ 

‘The café is a place that you can come and eat with a friend who may be gluten intolerant, but neither of you will feel like you are missing out, all paired with great coffee. In the past, gluten-free food was your frozen breads, but here you can get handmade bread, muffins and all sorts of delights.’ 

A large focus for the café is that you make your own choices. They add little salt, sugar and sauces and allow you to make your own choice about what, if anything, you would like to add. Conscious eating as the two described it. This Hello Hobart member had a chai latte, and unlike most, it wasn’t laden with sugar, but rather had the option to add sugar or honey if desired (it didn’t need it though – super tasty). 

And the name Straight Up? ‘We weren’t sure what to name the café for a while and suddenly one day I said to Chicko “you’re so upfront, you’re straight up” and she was like “stop! That’s our name” and it went from there. Plus, it is kind of tongue-in-cheek given where we are located and who we are!’ laughs Jess. 

The logo has a story of its own too. The iconic wall painting that begins with a tea pot (the now logo) growing into a tree took the artist 14 months to do. ‘We kept seeing the teapot come up in people’s photos and eventually it just made sense for this to be our logo’, said Chicko. Take a look at the artwork when you are onsite and see if you can spot the other coffee items hidden amongst the foliage. 

Both Jess & Chicko credit their staff for the wonderful café it is today. ‘We are big believers in letting the staff have ownership of the café and bakery.’