7 May 2020

'A green oasis': Two Before Ten's garden-led approach creates new growth

| Michelle Taylor
Twobie Baked Muesli

In the foreground is twobie baked muesli: a fresh bowl of oven-baked oats, coconut, dried fruit, and a house seed and nut mix with Greek yoghurt panna cotta and fresh berries. Photo: Kazuri Photography.

I meet owner Chris Dennis at his Aranda café. He is chilled and relaxed, one of those people you feel you have known forever immediately after meeting them.

Within the parched scrub of Belconnen, Two Before Ten shimmers like a green oasis.

Bees buzz happily among carefully tended vegetable patches; the berry and fruit trees wrap a shroud of lush greenery around the unique building that houses Two Before Ten.

It is an unusual building, like a 3D trapezium with a sloping roof. Two before Ten’s Aranda space is literally the café that a community helped bring together.

“Our city lease ran out and we were looking for somewhere new. Some of our regulars owned this building,” Chris says, waving at the cavernous interior painted a matte charcoal. “It used to be the local Aranda shops made up of six separate buildings. We put the roaster in, then the café, and our friends said, ‘Why don’t you just sign the lease on the whole building?'”

Smashed Beetroot Ricotta

Smashed beetroot ricotta on Three Mills Bakery kibbled rye with poached eggs, feta and dukkah. Photo: Michelle Taylor.

“The Aranda shops project fundamentally changed the focus of Two Before Ten and clarified our purpose as a business. The revitalisation of the site was incremental and relied heavily on support from the community and the gifting and re-use of materials from everywhere imaginable. The community are what made the project possible and they are what continue to make it worthwhile.”

The Aranda space has morphed into a hub. There is the café with the roastery roasting and blending enticingly right before your eyes next door; a library room into which the comfy chairs beg to be squashed. Groovy local pub The Bolt Bar opens its doors once the café closes. Head downstairs to the llesso studio, a wellness centre offering yoga classes, remedial massage and shiatsu massage. Next door, creative duo Thea and Pete from Meet Gather Collect lease a space for their beautiful furniture and designer wares store.

This Aranda locale is on an acre block that was arid and barren. This block of land inspired their sustainability journey as a business, beginning with their decision to revitalise the soil and plant food that they could use in their menu. They want to provide customers with feel good food that is healthy, comes fresh from the garden and is ethically sourced.

The thriving garden’s produce now features heavily across the menu in their five locations and each serves a dish that is entirely from the garden.

Aranda Garden Vegan Bowl

Aranda garden vegan bowl: fresh produce from the Aranda garden with tofu, wilted kale, spicy Mexican beans, boiled rice and puffed quinoa with a vegan avo and coriander aioli. Photo: Kazuri Photography.

Beehives are the latest plan and with those will come a whole lot of flowering plants. A commercial composter and dehydrator, which helps to minimise waste and produce compost for the gardens, will also be put in. Two Before ten’s goal for 2020 is to be zero waste.

“All the coffee cups are changing over to being compostable and most of our wholesale coffee is already being delivered in re-usable 10 litre tins, completely removing any waste from the process.”

Two Before Ten is not just about coffee. “In Canberra, everywhere does good coffee.” Chris says. “We are food-focused, the food is healthy. Simple delicious food, peasant food. Meals that are affordable. People should be able to go out, have a feed and not go broke. We are not in the hospitality industry for the money.”

Chris has always aspired to manage or own a business where “the people who work for you love turning up to work every day. That is our focus”.

Two Before Ten has continually evolved and grown in their first decade, defying financial stresses, embracing the organic opportunities that have come across their path. Their vision and plans for 2020 herald the beginning of an exciting new decade for this innovative café and roastery.

Chris is excited to reveal that Two Before Ten now has a fifth location.

“Our Greenway site is a collaboration with Tim and Tristan from Atlas Café in Gungahlin.”

It is a lovely full circle for Tim and Tristan as they originally managed the Aranda café and this new venture.

The new Greenway café is full of sunlight and it is in a space designed specifically for a café in an apartment block.

“We literally don’t need any lights. It’s a huge space, 200 square metres. It is in the middle of a whole lot of apartments. Lots of downsizers and uni students. We figured that people are going to sit there for an extended period so we have put power points all over the place. We have big thick cushions and a mezzanine up the top that we will turn into a wine bar in the New Year.”

Two Before Ten’s Aranda café is located at 68 Bandjalong Crescent in Aranda.

It is open from 7 am – 4 pm on weekdays and from 8 am – 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Follow them on Facebook and on Instagram to see all their yummy food and coffee.

Two Before Ten’s new Greenway café is located on Cynthia Teague Crescent, overlooking Lake Tuggeranong.

It is open from 7 am – 4 pm on weekdays and from 8 am – 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Follow them on Facebook.

wonderful brunch

An ambient nook for a wonderful brunch. Photo: Michelle Taylor.

Original Article published by Michelle Taylor on The RiotACT.

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