First published on 9 Mar 2012. Updated on 20 Jun 2012.
“Shaun’s nature is to lie.” Or so a customer tells us as they exit Juddy Roller. They're joking, but it’s a legitimate dig at the fact that Shaun Hossack is doing something as out of character as an interview. About coffee. The band-booker, exhibition curator and warehouse-party-thrower-turned-café-owner has been a serious barista for two years but his desire to talk about it is about as strong as his desire to punch himself in the face. “We want to make quality coffee but we want to do it without being idiots.” says Hossack. Fair enough.
He’s not being a reverse-snob, he just doesn’t want the art-space-cum-café to become all about the beans. “I don’t think Juddy Roller is just a café. I wanted to create a cultural hub where artists and artistic people could get together and be inspired.” Every inch of space inside and out of the re-purposed gap under some stairs in Fitzroy is a living gallery for street art with a constant rotation of works done by local and international artists. The café was a way to create some stability in his erratic life of event-throwing. Most of which, like the café, were based on crazy ideas he had and rolled with. “I felt like I had to legitimise my life in some way and a café was a legitimate business.”
And it is legit, in every respect. There’s Don Pachi single origin and cold brew on the menu, but a no-banging-on-about-it policy. And there’s the art – which the un-initiated might call so-hot-right-now ‘graffiti’, but it goes beyond that. “I’m not trying to regurgitate a subculture and sell it to the masses. One of our artists John Aslanidis is an institutional artist who’s just been commissioned to do a piece for the Art Centre, which raises the bar of what we do here. The better the artist, the better the café.”
Whatever Hossack’s intention when he started Juddy Roller, the beast is evolving. “We want to be a pro café. When people come here I don’t know what they expect but we want to exceed their expectations.” And we’re inclined to believe him.