Stop at the traffic lights on the corner of Margaret and Mary Streets near Toowoomba Grammar School and you will spot a little red bench.

The red bench is a signpost pointing you in the direction of a small cafe which boasts some of the finest coffee and baked goods in town. But even when you have found it, Red Bench Cafe will not give any of its secrets away. Owned by friends Cameron Orford and Edward Bracey (a former teacher and agronomist respectively) Red Bench opened in July last year and has garnered a strong following of East Toowoomba locals and mums meeting for mid morning catch-ups after dropping the kids off at school.

Strung light bulbs, warm timber fittings and hardwood floors lend the small space a masculine but homely feel, while a series of second-hand outdoor cinema chairs nod to the industrial and add another pop of the cafe’s namesake colour.

Red Bench may have only opened its doors a short time ago but if walls could talk the cafe may reveal the stories of years past.

Housed on the site of the old Toowoomba Grammar School (TGS) tuckshop, the building echoes the sound of mischievous TGS borders who spent their pocket money on cider and chester cake in old Mrs Fleming’s store, a much loved character who owned the business from the 1910s until the early 1940s.

Nowadays, Red Bench enthusiasts go not for cider but for coffee — the team is serious when it comes to a good cup. After honing his skills working Melbourne’s cafe scene, head barista Matt Skelton has returned home to Toowoomba to take the helm at the machine, serving up Sydney based specialty coffee brand Single O. “It’s really high quality bean. Every morning we dial in the coffee looking for the perfect taste,” cafe manager Georgie Brown explains. “We use a refractometer which measures the soluble liquids — the amount of light which refracts off the pigment.We find that amount which gives you the perfect taste and balance and do that every single morning so it’s consistently good. We’re the only cafe who uses Single O that does that.”

Loyalists, however, know a jaunt to Red Bench is truly about the food. Housemade baked goods prove irresistible when ordering at the counter.

Fresh cinnamon scrolls drizzled with cream cheese frosting are a must have, while donuts filled with lemon curd, salted caramel or jam, rolled in sugar and served with a dollop of cream sell out by mid morning and have patrons returning to Red Bench time and time again.

“After trialing a fair few donut recipes, we finally found one that worked and they just went crazy,” Georgie said. “We’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We cannot meet the demand and we don’t have the time — we’re making about 50 donuts a day.” But Georgie remains tight lipped when it comes to giving away the secret to Red Bench’s cream. “I can’t tell you, it’s a secret!” she said. “But it’s completely moorish. I lick the bowl every time we make it.”

 

 

 

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