When asked to describe the most unique characteristic of the South Australia Aquatic and Leisure Centre Café (SAALC), Manager Owen McLeod says there’s no café more committed to the environment than this one.
“We’re dedicated to educating our staff, members, and guests about sustainability, while also providing barista-made coffee,” Owen says.
Located in the suburban area of Oaklands Park, Owen says this is a landmark year for the local aquatic centre café, that has recently undergone $150,000 worth of renovations to modernise its service scape and ecological efficiency.
“The café was recently crowed as plastic-free champions by the South Australian Government-endorsed Plastic-Free SA, which we worked with to convert cutlery and packaging from single-use to recyclable and biodegradable options,” he says.
Owen says SAALC also partnered with reusable cup brand KeepCup to design and manufacture custom KeepCups for patrons and staff, to help combat the rising costs of takeaway cups, lids and coffee beans.
“Not only does this idea negate the need for packaging, but more importantly, it reduces our carbon footprint by reusing coffee cups,” Owen says.
Along with its admirable environmental initiatives, Owen says few sporting venues in the country offer a cup of coffee with quality on par with a traditional specialty café.
“We may not be your conventional specialty café, however we strive to be by becoming the first café in an Australian aquatic centre to adopt these practices,” he says.
The café serves Rio Coffee’s Blend 64 brew. This is a signature blend which Food & Beverage Director Jay Vijayakumar says has a round, full, and creamy taste, balanced by stone-fruit sweetness, and is a refined choice for espresso lovers and true coffee connoisseurs.
“We’ve worked with this prestigious brand for nearly 10 years, almost since the day we opened, and we’re proud to pour this great coffee for our customers,” says Jay.
“Because we have over 3000 people coming through our doors every day, we chose a blend we knew would capture the mass market.”
Alongside its coffee, customers can choose from a variety of quality menu options, including freshly made burgers, pizzas, grab-and-go sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
“The café certainly plays a big role in our overall success at the centre and our customers satisfaction,” Jay says.
Owen, who has such a passion for coffee he began brewing cold brew in his backyard several years ago, says the aquatic centre is the perfect space to enjoy a morning coffee over the paper, relaxed lunch, or take-home meal.
“Walking into work and spelling fresh coffee being ground every day and maintaining that connection with our regular customers through great coffee is the most rewarding part of my job,” he says.
“Whether you need an energy hit or a space to relax, our café has you covered.”
SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre
443 Morphett Rd, Oaklands Park, South Australia 5046
Open Monday to Friday 7am – 7pm, Saturday 7am – 4:30pm and Sunday 8am – 4pm
(08) 8198 0198
This article appears in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.