There’s a lot of talk about coffee and the process of making it, all in pursuit of the perfect cup.
At Vector Coffee, the clues of success are there in the espresso bar’s name and logo. Even before we enter the premises, we can see the ‘vector’ name and arrow symbol denoting that we’re on a trajectory towards excellence.
To Vector’s owners, Tom Palmer and his wife Kirsten, coffee is a science, not just a work of art. They are scientists who have applied their skills to the science of coffee making.
“I’m a physicist and Kirsten was a science teacher before we opened Vector,” Tom tells us. “Making coffee is really like doing chemistry. You are dissolving chemicals in water using heat. If you want to consistently get the best tasting coffee, we must control as many variables as possible, including taking precise measurements in and out of the coffee machine to get the same results.”
Precision has been the couple’s priority from the day they opened their coffee shop late in 2019. Concentrating on coffee and keeping their food simple, they began by studying the process of coffee making and experimenting with different ways to bring each of their coffees to an excellent standard time and time again.
When we visit them over three years later, their Synesso S200 machine is still on the job.
“It’s not a fancy looking machine, but it’s accurate and consistent,” Tom tells me.
“We also work closely with our roaster, Therefore Coffee roastery at Carrara, to get our coffee the way we like it.”
Besides the malty caramel tones of their house blend Paradigm by Therefore, Vector offers rotating single origins for espresso and filter coffees. It is one of the few places on the coast that offers a tasting flight of all three of their coffee styles: espresso, milk-based and filter coffee. You’ll love your coffee so much that you’ll want to take it home (and you can), with beans sold retail at the café.
Navigating lockdowns and border closures, the couple contracted their business to takeaway through the coffee window during difficult periods. However, 2023 begins with new growth.
Working towards their goal of a modern café with New York-style inspo, they took on a new chef, Chris, late in 2022.
Vector’s new all-day menu rates as some of the best brunch food on the coast. Frankly, we’re amazed at the standard of food exiting their tiny kitchen.
Well chosen, the new menu covers bagels, toasties, eggs, waffles and bowls. Just as they did with the coffee, the couple’s emphasis is on quality and taste. So, even if there’s only a single touchdown on a couple of the bases, their food offerings are well worth exploring.
For example, Chilli Scrambled Eggs featuring Tom’s house-made chilli oil with added aromatics is one of the best we’ve tasted, served on Pixel’s fine sourdough. To complete the flavour bomb, the eggs are folded through with goat’s cheese, topped with spring onions, fresh chilli, fried shallots and parmesan.
The excellent Bagel Boys bagels come stuffed full of BLT or a Reuben pastrami (and co.) filling. My favourite is the New Yorker with Norwegian smoked salmon, whipped cream cheese, baby capers and red onion. You can also order your bagel simply smeared with jam, the bagels gluten-free or vegan by request.
And don’t overlook the Buttermilk Waffles, as they’re too delicious to pass up. Their perfect consistency is complemented by Biscoff crumb and smear (which we keep mopping up), vanilla mascarpone cream, seasonal fruit, with maple syrup served in a 100ml beaker – a cute touch.
Tucked away on the quieter end of Young Street, Vector has all the advantages of being on the edge of the action. It has a friendly village feel and food is keenly priced.
“We know 80% of our customers and their coffee orders,” Tom tells us.
Weekdays are the busiest times with the coffee rush from 8 until 11am. Many people pre-order their lunch online and pick it up on their walk out of the office. Weekends see the stayers perch at the coveted window ledge enjoying a leisurely meal as they wind down and read the weekend papers.
“We’re slowly noticing a change in the demographic down this end of town. It’s cool to see new faces and to discover new cultures,” Tom adds.
It’s all part of their little community hub, the ebb and flow of life. Like an eddy just off the main stream’s action, its central point is an excellent cup of coffee.
Talking of community, 2022 saw the couple’s world expand with the arrival of baby Ernest bringing a new dimension to their lives.
Unlike the making of coffee, however, everyone’s experience of parenthood is unique, the vector all its own.
Vector Coffee, 18A Young St, Southport, Queensland 4215 Ph: 0491 653 357 Open: Mon – Fri 6.30am – 2pm, Sat 7am – 1pm, Sun 7am – 12noon
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast were guests of Vector Coffee. Photo of Kirsten, Tom and Ernest supplied.