It was about 46 degrees outside, but we had planned to buy my youngest daughter's school stationery and get organised, so a trip to the city was planned and undertaken.
We'd done the school shoes already, and were busily scouring the boutiques such as 'Supre', 'Jay Jays', etc… all pretty standard stuff, when you have two adolescent girls. THEN, we spotted a NEW 'Cotton On' across the Mall (Rundle, that is) OMG! Well, here was one we hadn't done yet. A new adventure, a new jaunt into new retail territory! We had to go, didn't we. Aside from the fact that 'Cotton On' stores had actually lost favour with my girls, quite some time ago, this was new and big and shiny. So we went over and went through the whole store; pretty standard Cotton On stuff. All quite good for dressing 13-16 yr olds, who are just finding their dress sense.
What it did have, however, as I looked around for my daughters, after having been abandoned in search of style fulfilment in the shape of clothing, was a rather neat looking new coffee shop. In front of a rather funky looking, distressed brick wall with huge windows in it, was another equally distressed looking brick wall, with a vertical garden climbing down it, albeit with fake plants in the trellis. There was a lawn of synthetic grass with a rather exotic and colourful looking, classic bike parked on it, and a huge reclaimed-looking counter with lots of pictures of African kids around.
This was retail bliss for me; soothing my kids savage egos and having a coffee in reasonably interesting surrounds at the same time. Now, they don't serve a lot at Café Webale, as it concentrates on its Fairtrade 'robusta' coffee, which is sponsored by the Cotton On Foundation, so I'm told, and grown on family plantations (as I understand it) in Uganda. They do serve a variety of coffee styles, all from robusta coffee beans, which are somewhat stronger, though very smooth and cocoaey in taste.
Their hot chocolate, made from 28% cocoa, is also a bit stronger in taste than most people are used to, but so good and rich and subtle, rather than being milky and sweet only. The focus is on the cocoa, rather than being sugary sweet. What they don't have are smoothies, juices etc., although they do have some 'Emma and Tom's quencher' juices, like Charlie's Honest Quencher, which sounded pretty good. My child, though, when one of them showed their heads, had the hot chocolate in lieu. Yes, on a 46 degree day. They also have Cotton On Foundation water, again supporting the families in Uganda, and 70% percent cocoa chocolate bars in kind of hessiany or jute printed boxes.
Adjacent to the massive reclaimed counter, where they serve aforementioned fairtrade coffees, there is also a large reclaimed woodwork bench, with something like a rusty press on the side of it. It is at this, on rather cool looking, dark veneer stools, you sit and have your good, robusta coffee, either in a medium size coffee glass or mug. The hot chocolate was also served in the coffee glass, which was different. My other child, when she reared her head, had the 'Emma and Tom's banana bar', whilst I munched on an 'Emma and Tom's cherry and goji berry bar'. My daughter really liked the banana bar, while I quite enjoyed munching on something a little healthier and not so sweet, with my coffee: a stronger cappuccino. Which was just that.
The barista came over and chatted about the place and its goals: it's also the first in a pilot plan of Cotton On's founder. Yes, folks, Sydney and Melbourne don't have one yet. We do.
This new Café Webale in the equally new Cotton On Shop, is exactly opposite the old Cotton On shop in Rundle Mall, apparently on the old 'book boys' site. It's on the right hand side as you're coming from King Wm St. and about 10 metres or so (I do stand corrected on this, though), from Pulteney St and the Telstra Shop, on the corner.
Look, the premise of this Café is a damn good one, because while you're enjoying a good coffee (and it's definitely how I like mine), the families that the Cotton On Foundation supports can also enjoy the spoils from the profit of your Fairtrade coffee, for a change. Yes, that's it, this place is a nice change in Adelaide although I have seen similar setups in Sydney, at the back of hairdressers and book shops (when they were still around, that is), as well as at the rear of a boutique. This one (although I probably wouldn't take Gran there, due to the type of boom boom music they tend to play in Cotton On stores in general) is upbeat and funky and up-to-the-minute and hip as well as kind of alternative. In a store that is so the opposite, really - not alternative. I guess that makes this little café a breath of fresh air, aside from the boom boom, that is.
Oh, and the barista. A more enthusiastic barista you could not find and she just about exemplifies what the place is all about. She waxed lyrical to me for a few minutes about the goals and ambitions and current focus of the Cotton On Foundation. This was actually quite inspiring and refreshing, when today so many people are so jaded, and impressive to say the least. Such verve, like the little cafe itself.
There's a rather large, hard bound book on the reclaimed bench, where you can drink your coffee, which outlines some of the things (and probably future aspirations as well) the Cotton On Foundation's done in Uganda.
I'm inspired and I liked it, the whole concept. Oh, and they sell handmade fruit or egg baskets made in the villages they support, for $10. We've got one. You could help out by purchasing your next coffee or hot chocolate or by buying one of these baskets there, too.
Café Webale, at the rear of the new Cotton On Store in Rundle Mall is a great little retail stopover.
I'm glad you explained this is a clothing store a I would never have cottoned on :)
It's not entirely clear whether Cotton On is no for profit, or just supports their own charity, although not central to the story.
I think you deserve at least a bronze award just for taking your children shopping on a 46 degree day, and then finding the energy to write about it!
An entertaining, and well rounded story, with delightful insights into the parenthood I managed to avoid lol