Travel the world in a coffee cup

Hello and welcome to Treehouse Lounge an all-day eatery in the heart of Balaclava, think café by day, and a cocktail, tapas lounge after the sun sets. Our man Dave Kerr chats with the manager and former workmate Simon Pierce, they chat philosophy, coffee etiquette and instagrammable granola. Use that mouse and scroll down for more.   

So, Simon, tell me about the Treehouse Lounge.  What is it?  A café?

Yeah, well it’s a café, lounge, bar, restaurant.

How many hours is it trading here?

Ah, we open at seven, in the week, and we close around about eleven at night.

That’s a really long stint. It’s a really kind of rare thing to find in hospitality, isn’t it?

Yeah, every night except on Monday. They’re both serving from breakfast right through to dinner

So, you’ve been here a year? How long have you been in hospitality Simon?

Ah, nearly twenty years, thanks for asking.

OK, so, ignoring the fact that you have been doing this for twenty years, you are incredibly good at it, you’ve done everything. Can I, can I ask you what’s been your favourite thing?

It’s not so much the venue, it’s the people you work with. So, quite often you get a bunch of people that you gel with. And that’s what makes the actual job special. To find a bunch of people that work really well together, they get on well, they socialise well together and they’re professional at the same time, that’s the best thing.

So, do you wanna nail down, which team?

Dave and us at the bar, really.

For the record. Simon and I have formerly worked together, roughly seven years ago.

We used to have competitions. To see who could sell the most cocktails, cocktail specials. It was good, money wasn’t though.

Minor Minor. Ok, so, you don’t drink anymore?

You can’t ask me that question.

Best coffee on this street?

I’d have to say mine. We use Artful Dodger’s penny tucks blend.

So you’ve done loads of stuff, bartender, you’re obviously a fairly accomplished barista, which of those menial tasks do you find your favourite?

Baristaring, for many reasons. You get to see your regulars every single day. The connection between you and the customer develops.  And you get to create something too. You know you get to put your heart into every single thing you do, I guess you can’t do that with a cocktail. You’re just adding what somebody else has already done.

Artfully done.  And you’re not responsible for killing people very, very slowly.

Yeah, or even watch them get drunk, which is pretty annoying as well. You give them a coffee and people still leave, you know, quite nicely. Nobody comes in for eight beers and leaves nicely.

Where would you rather be?  Southside, Northside?

Northside, I live Northside.

What do you think about Southside, completely different environment?

Completely different environment, different people, different market. Yeah, it’s a bit more Sydney-esque, it’s got a little bit less substance. Little less vibe as well. St Kilda is a good place and what we’re actually doing works well here. In Northside it’s more about the actual products. It’s more about the substance.

Who’s your most favourite, interesting regular?

I’ve got this guy that comes in here named Tim. He’s in New Zealand at the moment, doing the coast to coast.  But he’s a philosophy student, he’s got his first year in philosophy and he’s currently studying ‘what consciousness is’ at Fort Monash. He’s basically trying to pin-point what consciousness is. When he comes in, we can have some good interesting conversations about all sorts of stuff.

Ha, ha, woah!

Yeah, he’s pretty amazing. He doesn’t think that trees are conscious and I do, so… Bearing that he has a PhD, he’s a doctor in philosophy he is probably right.

What’s the most annoying coffee order?

There’s so many these days. With coffees, it’s just the sheer fact that people think that if they say more words, they’re getting more value for money.  If they want like a hot, skinny, three-quarter, you know, cappuccino with no chocolate, it’s like “you’re not getting more money’s worth just order a fucking cappuccino”. If you don’t want a coffee, just have a fucking tea, you know.  

Just have a cup of tea man. What’s the best day to come to the Treehouse?

The best day to would be probably a Sunday afternoon. Sunday vibes, windows open… There’s live music and you can still get good food, obviously. It’s not too busy, as brunch, obviously, is our busiest period, so, yeah, but it’s still busy enough to not feel like you’re sitting in an empty place.

Yeah, sweet are you going to do this forever?

No. I’ve been saying that for two years, ha, ha.

Have you done anything else?

No

Why do you keep coming back to this?  Why can’t you leave? Why can’t we leave?

To me it’s a confidence thing, you know. I’ve always wanted to do it when I was a kid, I wanted to be a chef, that was my thing. There are elements of romance about this industry that we sell for a living, you know. I did that a lot as a wine sommelier. We sell romance, we don’t sell the reality of the fact that it’s just a bunch of really crazy farmers living in the country squashing grapes. That’s the reality of what wine is, and yet we favour romance and the fact that, you know, they live on a vineyard and it’s as nice as their wines… It’s not nice at all, there is all sorts of shit going on. Coffee comes from a place in a far-off land, you can travel the world in a coffee cup. That’s kind of cool, and it’s always exciting. But, the actual job itself can be pretty taxing. 

Do you think in some small way though, as a barista, that you interact with people on, I mean you can have an impact with somebody’s life…?

Definitely.

I mean, you don’t know anybody’s situation outside of here, but you being a good dude and giving someone some coffee and a smile at the start of the day might actually change the course of their life.

Yeah!

Hey Simon?

Yeah!

I wanna thank you and I’m so happy that this thing has brought us together

It’s good to see you.

I miss you man. Let’s go shoot this Instagramable granola with flowers and all the trimmings, how pretty.

It is pretty.

Treehouse Lounge

263 Carlisle St, Balaclava VIC 3183

(03) 9527 8940

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