Meet 20-year-old Ruby Kerrison, the super sweet and positively vibed barista at Richmond’s slightly outlying cafe Long Street Coffee. In a converted garage – complete with the industrial-minimalist look Melbournians love and basketball hoop out front – Long Street serves up sensationally good coffee using beans from Proud Mary and fights for positive social change with a hospitality traineeship that empowers refugees and people seeking asylum.
Yarra Reporter: So tell us a little bit about Long Street
Ruby Kerrison: So, Long Street [opened] last year and it was started by Jane and Francois Marx. They started it because they wanted to use their activism for refugees and channel that in a way that has real life outcomes for people. So, the principles of Long Street are that we offer paid hospitality traineeships for refugees [and asylum seekers] so they gain real life hospitality skills in Melbourne, which is awesome because it also gets them used to this dynamic hospitality industry that we have in Melbourne.
YR: How many trainees are involved in Long Street?
RK: So we have [3-month long] traineeships. At the moment I work with a girl called Malisha from Papua New Guinea. She [works] two days a week and then we’ve also got another person who comes in on the weekends; I only work with Malisha. We start them out on the floor and from on the floor we start teaching them about filter coffees and get them working their way up to the coffee machine. They get to experience everything. [I get] to help with training, which has been awesome, and we all do coffee training at Market Lane. There is definitely an emphasis on how much of a team we are.
YR: How did you start working at Long Street?
RK: I found an add and had a couple of trials. It just worked out perfectly well for me. The values here are in line with my values because I’m quite passionate about social justice as well. It’s really awesome to be part of a team that’s all on the same level [and] all want the same thing. [We are all] really passionate about providing an awesome service for people and also creating a community of sorts. It’s just an awesome place to work.
YR: Where did you learn to make coffee?
RK: I worked at a cafe previously for a year. It definitely wasn’t like this – as in they didn’t have a strong set of values. Here we have a real emphasis on being professional and also being individual. I learned to make coffee in my first job and I got used to working independently because it was quite a small cafe. [Long Street] is bigger, so it has been good to be able to up my skills both in volume and also consistency. Francois has been making coffee for maybe 10 years, so he’s been able to really guide me through and, like, tell me how I’m going, and basically train me.
YR: What’s your favourite part of your day working at Long Street?
RK: I genuinely love coming to work with the people I work with. It’s such an awesome place to be because my colleagues are great people. North Richmond kind of feels small because we have so many regulars and we’ve created a nice little community. The other night we had our Christmas party [with] all of the regulars and it was so lovely to hang out with everyone. It was just nice and super chilled.
YR: And the worst part?
RK: I’m super prone to anxiety, so whenever it gets busy I do tend to get a bit flustered, however… always improving.
YR: If you weren’t making coffee at Longstreet what would you be doing?
RK: I’m also working at a Call Centre, which is all right, but I honestly much prefer doing this…[I love] being in this fast-paced environment, working with people, helping people, and really feeling like you’re getting something from other people.
YR: Do you see yourself doing this for the foreseeable future?
RK: I reckon so. I’m also studying Gender Studies and Australian Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University at the moment, but I have no concrete plans in terms of a career. Right now I’m really happy doing this because I feel comfortable and I’ve finally found the perfect balance with uni, work and having a social life.
YR: Awesome, so you study, you work at Longstreet and the call centre, what do you do in your spare time?
RK: Okay, what do I do… I love reality TV. I’m also a ferocious reader. I’ve been getting into pottery a bit, which has been really awesome, I also just, like, enjoy getting out and cycling. I’ve just moved house, so I’ve been enjoying getting out and about and exploring.
YR: Where is your favourite place to grab a coffee?
RK: I live in North Melbourne and at the moment I’m really enjoying going to Counter, which I’m pretty sure is owned by Auction Rooms, but it’s a much smaller place. It’s really lovely, though, super chilled – not as busy.
YR: What’s next for Ruby Kerrison?
RK: Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I think I’m going to do Honours in Gender Studies. Hopefully. And then go travelling a bit. But, in terms of the next year I’m so happy to be working [at Long Street Coffee] and studying. I feel like I’m in a really good place at the moment.
Read more about Long Street Coffee here.
Written by Roxanne Fitzgerald