6 June 2024

Get in the groove at Purple Rain Cafe

| Lucy Ridge
Interior Purple Rain Cafe

More cafes should give pride of place to record players. Photo: Lucy Ridge

There are no prizes for guessing Terry Fong’s favourite song, but as for his favourite record, he says it’s too hard to choose.

The owner of Purple Rain Cafe in Campbell has found a way to showcase all his favourite records in one place while also leveraging his 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry in Canberra.

Terry and his wife, Sunnie Li, also have a lot of friends who are musicians, and he witnessed the difficulties faced by performers during COVID-19.

“So many people lost their jobs because nothing was open. No performances, no bars, no weddings,” he told Region.

“So I started to think about what I could do. I wanted to provide opportunities.”

The result is Purple Rain Cafe: a specialty coffee shop with a musical twist.

Cup of creamy coffee on table

Deja Vu Coffee Purple Rain Cafe. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is that a record player takes pride of place with a neon sign above.

Most people might think of live music venues as dark bars with alcohol, but Terry wanted to encourage an atmosphere where people can focus on the music.

There is live music on the final Saturday of each month, and Terry is keen to make it a more regular event as the word spreads.

“It’s slowly getting more popular. I want to make sure there is a good crowd for the musicians, so many people have contacted me to perform.”

READ ALSO Pialligo Estate to be reborn under new hospitality and events venture

On other days Terry will put on records, or customers are welcome to choose something from his collection. Some regulars even bring their vinyl from home, which Terry always enjoys because he gets to hear something new.

Interior of studio

The studio at the Purple Rain Cafe. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

There’s also a small studio space in the back, which is available to hire. He’s had people use it for podcasts, recording song demos, teaching students, rehearsing or just jamming with mates.

READ ALSO How much should a cup of coffee cost?

The cafe has a range of specialty coffees, with a focus on cold brew blends that incorporate other flavours. I particularly enjoyed the Deja Vu, a cold brew coffee topped with salted vanilla cream foam and orange zest. The eponymous Purple Rain is a fruitier blend with cold brew coffee, grape juice and jasmine tea. Matcha lovers will be interested to know that Terry and Sunnie grind the matcha leaves to order, rather than using a pre-made powder or syrup.

“This style of coffee is becoming very popular in Japan and Korea, but there aren’t so many places in Australia. You can find it in Melbourne or Sydney, but I think we are the first in Canberra.”

Purple Rain signage and record collection

Purple Rain Cafe. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The cafe doesn’t have a full kitchen, but the couple have a decent menu of toasties and sweets. The BBQ beef sando is a delicious bit of Japanese-American fusion. The Purple French toast is a sweet tooth’s delight, and the pretty purple dusting of taro is gorgeous.

The space is well-designed and manages to feel light, airy and spacious while packing a lot of personality into the small space: old, scratched records are used in light fittings, and one wall uses guitar strings as a clever feature.

Purple Rain Cafe.

Taro French Toast, Purple Rain Cafe. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

If you’re a music lover, a coffee lover, then I just want to see you dining in the purple rain (cue guitar solo).

Purple Rain Cafe is located at C03/51 Constitution Ave, Campbell. Visit their website or follow them on Instagram. They are open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

Weekly Wrap

Canberra is renowned for its restaurants, bars, arts and culture. If you want to know what's going on in and around the nation's capital, sign up for our weekly newsletter and have all the best of the Canberra community delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.