Sitting proudly opposite Coolangatta beach is Raw Energy – an alfresco cafe sought-after by locals and tourists alike, for their huge breakfast menu, decent coffee, healthy lunches and flavour-packed smoothies and fresh juices.
Drive past any weekend and the place is packed with a variety of folk – backpackers, families, hipsters, singletons and seniors. Why do all types flock here? Simple: big menu, value for money, food that's always spot-on and not at all fussy.
Raw Energy cafes were founded in 1998 by Geoff and Liz Campbell. There are five cafes on the Sunshine Coast but Coolangatta is the only Gold Coast franchise. Their vision to offer "fresh food, juices, coffee and smoothies, and serve it in a fast and funky environment" is alive and kicking, with meals and customer service consistently good, every time I drop in.
The staff are young, energetic, bubbly and attractive – selling the "Raw lifestyle" through their appearance alone. On a health kick? No problem; the menu is generous and caters for most allergies and intolerances, with gluten and dairy free options available and a heap of vegetarian dishes to choose from.
However, if you're not after a healthy meal, don't despair – there's plenty of eggs, dairy, sugar and bacon on the menu to keep even the most blokey male satisfied.
And if you're after homestyle cakes - heaven! And the coffee? It's good. Lavazza, served in good sized mugs or cups; no burnt milk, grind calibrated correctly – a really enjoyable cup.
Young kids are catered to with a well-worn box of toys and some space to move around. It's not going to set the family market on fire, but the folk at Raw are doing enough to keep satiating parents ploughing through their plates, while the little ones have the novelty of pouring through someone else's toybox.
The impossibly white sand beach is a great backdrop for the cafe, (even though you're on ground level and have to stand up now and then to check the waves). Raw's unobtrusive ambience - not too cool, clever or personalised, but just enough so it doesn't blend in with other cookie cutter cafes in the precinct - is what it is, so as not to distract from the stunning beachside location.
Parking can be a problem; the beachfront fills up quick, especially on the weekends (and from the crack of dawn no less). Perhaps a stroll or bike ride into town is a quicker solution – and afterall, you're into a healthier lifestyle now, aren't you?