Ethical, wholesome and downright neighbourly, Little Things Big Things bring guilt-free indulgences to the Coast

Ethical, wholesome and downright neighbourly, Little Things Big Things bring guilt-free indulgences to the Coast

Photo by Mandana Baker Photography.
Words by Talia Rinaldo

From humble beginning serving specialty coffee from a vintage, coffee trailer, to operating a bright, beachy café seven days a week, Little Things Big Things live up to their name.

A venture of synchronicity and passion, Torquay locals Stephen and Mandana Baker have finally found the perfect venue to put down their roots, transforming a small shopfront in the heart of Torquay.

Embracing the opportunity to live a slower pace of life, New Zealand barista Stephen and his wife Mandana were originally drawn to the Surf Coast for its relaxed surf lifestyle and soon turned a passion for coffee into a blossoming business idea. Honing in on Stephen’s skills learned from some of the most knowledgeable baristas across Australia and New Zealand, and created on the conviction that we need, more than ever, locals who support locals, Little Things Big Things was born.

Becoming the Coast’s most wholesome purveyors of damn fine cups of coffee, which you’d often find parked along the Surfcoast Highway, their passion for the coast only deepened, leading to the creation of their first café last year, operating under the same apt title.

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Burning with the desire to maintain their roots in Torquay and stay true to the devoted clientele, the café almost instantly outgrew their previous home, inspiring the couple to search for a larger venue to call their forever home.

“We saw an opportunity and decided to move on it. Our previous shop was getting busier and busier and we wanted to grow and it just wasn’t possible in the tiny shop so we shut the door and opened elsewhere.”

Opening on Gilbert Street in May, the cafe keeps nutrition, sustainability and, of course, ethics at the front of mind. Continuing to source products from the local region, Little Things Big Things is serving up breakfast and lunch to those in need of some nourishment sans-guilt with an animal-friendly menu that will feed your stomach as well as your soul.

“Eating plant-based foods is very easy for us as we both have been living vegan/vegetarian for many years now. We essentially have translated what we do in our own home to the café,” Stephen explains.

“One of our main inspirations was that we wanted to create a space where people who are gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian have heaps of options to choose from as this is usually not the case. That’s why most of our menu can be made vegan and gluten-free!”

From flavoursome vegan focaccias, cheesy Bolognese vegan pies, to sweet pea sausage rolls, to Almond croissants, cauliflower pies, and hearty warming porridge, there’s something to suit every flavour profile.

They’ve even got a bright bowl of vegan organic nachos complete with homemade bean mix, guacamole, fresh salsa and creamy cashew cheese, alongside a dedicated salad bar in summer.

“The Salad bar might be a warmer weather only thing but, in the meantime, we are about to utilise it in a different manner doing street style soft tacos. They taste awesome and are sure to be well-received,” Stephen says.

“We are about to release our new menu which will include the Tacos, Organic Nachos, Burrito Bowls and our Quinoa Beetroot Burger will find a permanent place on that menu too. Plus, we’ve got some amazing gluten-free vegan waffles and other yummy and nourishing food options like smoothie bowls, Acai bowls etc.!”

For those that love dessert for breakfast, the vegan waffles are sure to make for an indulgent yet almost guilt-free meal.

Alongside the breaky and lunch items, you’ll also find a great selection of healthy drinks like fresh cold-pressed juices, Smoothies, Cold Brew, Matcha and Beetroot/Golden Lattes when you need to nourish on the run, as well as a bunch of sweet treats like peanut butter salted caramel slice, vegan doughnuts, chocolate cake, carrot cake and sometimes even apple crumble cake. There’s even a great selection of local healing teas from Tea Thief to get you regrouped and rebalanced.

The spacious indoor dining area has softly polished concrete floors, long bench seats and an abundance of natural light. It’s a patch-worked nod to the Balinese and Ibizenco vibe, with the attention to detail that is evident in the couple’s entire approach. From patterned pillows and timber tabletops to floor-to-ceiling glass windows, indoor plants, and rattan pendant lighting, the café seamlessly blends earthy hues and bright whites resulting in a truly beautiful, laid-back, beachy destination.

Ethical, wholesome and downright neighbourly, Stephen and Mandana are setting the tone for a new wave of cafés in regional Victoria. Not only do they focus on local produce (with 80% coming from local and small businesses), they also have a huge emphasis on sustainability.

The fit-out and furnishings are from salvaged timbers and recycled materials from their Bell Street Café, and their cups and lids are not only biodegradable but are also compostable (which is not very common in most of the takeaway products you see out there).

“Our lids are made from sugarcane and break down really well (we tested it ourselves). We also compost our coffee ground and collect lids for prosthetic limbs.”

Whether you take a seat and treat yourself to a vegan cake or pastry (nearly everything is made in-house), or soak up some sun in their cosy corner with a refreshing kombucha or smoothie, Little Things Big Things is the place to go to enjoy the spoils of the coast.

Paul Kelly really did have it right when he said from little things big things grow.

Find them at 4/19 Gilbert Street, Torquay.