By Charlotte Burns
A Huckster is someone who persistently peddles goods, but at Hucksters and Co. there’s no peddling needed. Instead, you’ll discover a steady flow of customers ready and willing to purchase good food and great coffee.
Hucksters and Co. is tucked away in one of Geelong’s metro hot spots, James Street. Upon entry, it’s easy to see why this cafe is a local favourite, especially when you are greeted at the door with the heady aroma of rich coffee and smiles from staff members Belle and John.
Brad Sitlington started Hucksters and Co. from scratch six years ago in May 2015 and has since become a pioneer for the coffee culture in Geelong.
“We take our coffee seriously,” Brad explains. It is through Brad’s passion and rigorous attention to detail that Hucksters has been frequently labelled Geelong’s best cup of coffee.
“For us, it’s all about customer service and being extremely consistent in making our coffees,” Brad says.
Unlike other coffee shops in the area, Hucksters prides itself on providing a smooth coffee blend for a decent price. Their coffee is not overpowered by one flavour and instead is a seriously drinkable cup of coffee.
Their customers simply cannot get enough with some regulars coming into Hucksters three times a day just to appease their coffee fix.
While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to indulge in truly tempting baked delicacies. The Mars Bar Malteser slice is a regular sell-out.
“In six years, I have sold 58,500 slices of Mars Bars Malteser slice,” Brad confirms. “People actually get upset if they miss out. It’s one of the only products that has been on the menu since day one.
Good conversation is on the menu as well, with regulars often dropping in to chat to John, Belle or Brad about their day.
It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows for Hucksters. In fact, it has had its fair share of roadblocks. Brad opened Hucksters after moving to St. Leonards from Northcote and initially thought it would be like opening a cafe in Melbourne.
“When we started we wanted to be like the Melbourne cafes, so we opened at 6am but that just didn’t work because people here don’t start that early,” Brad recalls. “Now we open at 7am.”
“In Geelong, it’s all about the community,” Brad says, “we try and support each other so when people are visiting they can try us, try the bakery, try other cafes and we’re all happy to keep the customer in the area.”
After putting in the hard yards to develop his stream of regular customers, Brad was faced with yet another challenge navigating the James St roadworks in 2017. He described it as a nightmare but nothing like COVID-19.
“We stayed open right through COVID to support the people who still had to come to work,” Brad says, “so for us, it was a lot of learning and bettering our food, coffee and processes. It was hard but the customers appreciated it and they continued to come in every day.”
“The mental struggle was the biggest thing, putting in the same effort with minimal results was challenging. But customer service is at the heart of what we do. You can make the best cup of coffee but if you forget to be nice it won’t fly in Geelong. We wanted to continue to be that cafe where you could come in for a nice coffee and a chat.”
Post-COVID, Brad says business is looking a lot more normal with regulars returning and more people discovering his cafe every day. In particular, he credits the recent boom to people and workplaces moving to Geelong for increased foot traffic.
“Geelong is evolving and it is turning into a great place to work and to be,” Brad says.
Ultimately, creating and being a part of the coffee culture in Geelong is about passion and respect for the grind.
The pinnacle question for the team at Hucksters is: Would you accept this as a customer? The answer always needs to be yes.
“Coffee determines where you eat,” Brad believes, “so if you had two places to choose from, the one with the better coffee is where you go to eat. So it’s about good coffee plus good food.”
Their motto is simple: Hucksters & Co. are there to make your day better.
If you are looking for the best coffee in Geelong, be sure to pop into Hucksters & Co.