Coffee, Purpose & Belonging

Written by Kim Harris

“My son tells me the key to happiness is simple – purpose and belonging.”

I thought about this when I saw Dave Drake from OBC in his element and heard his story – a bloke doing what he does – making great coffee and building a micro community that serves more than coffee but a place where customers feel like they belong.

There is something heartwarming when you walk into OBC – Dave knows what you want before you have to say – it really is that human connection we all crave, it can make a person’s day, just to be remembered, important and seen.

Dave has a “no fancy stuff” approach to coffee making – he doesn’t do frappes, elaborate coffee art, or try being something he isn’t. It really isn’t complicated and that’s kind of cool.

It’s about the coffee and the people. Purpose and belonging.

Dave and I caught up to make some coffee together he showed me the tricks of the trade to make a decent coffee. Good quality freshly ground beans, piping hot milk and practise required to master technique – I managed to get distracted and create a big milky spill.

To be honest I’m not sure how much I learnt about making coffee, but I enjoyed Dave’s enthusiasm and clear passion for coffee, his customers and of course the quirky little/big shop with countless interesting objects to explore.

I believe that Dave offers community connection, invaluable to all our wellbeing.
The coffee Dave made me was great (My attempt was good at best – still learning). I am very fond of the toasties and can confirm I’ve enjoyed a fast tasty sanga from OBC on several occasions with no complaints.

Unexpectantly I found my special thing in Dave’s shop: a much-loved childhood golden book “The Poky Little Puppy” I hadn’t thought or seen the book in decades. The cheeky puppies face on a familiar old book inducing a little flutter of delight.

Go find yours at the OBC.

How OBC started? Here is Dave’s story:

“I just want to make coffee and do it really well”

After a 25-year career as an Electrician doing housing, high rise construction, commercial and the mining sector, I always dreamt of having a small café.

I have always loved coffee and motorbikes. I have been riding motorbikes from a young age and combined the love of both and The OBC was born in 2019.

In June 2016 I had surgery on my left shoulder, then in the October of that same year, I underwent surgery on my right shoulder.

After a long recovery and physiotherapy, I returned to electrical contracting until 2018 when I went back ‘under the knife’ for a second surgery on my left shoulder.

After 3-4 months of recovery, I was offered a job as a shift relief electrician in Central West, QLD at a Coal Mine Wash Plant. I stopped my local electrical contracting business, Drake Industry Services and did ‘DIDO’ work on a week on week off even time roster.

In January 2019, I found a coffee cart for sale and purchased it with the idea my coffee dream was going to start.

I continued the mining job while I was buying a trailer and a marquee and getting all the gear, I needed to start trading ‘THE OBC’.

With ongoing support from family and my best mate, we had a logo, business cards, the marquee tent printed, some t-shirts and a basic menu. My best mate also helped me with a Facebook page.

We started serving coffee from The OBC in July 2020 at a campground making coffee in the morning for 5 hours, then enjoying family time and a beer in the afternoon.

Our next venture with The OBC was supporting Hervey Bay’s Biggest Sleep Out supporting the Neighbourhood Centre in September 2020 and the local campground later that month.

June 2021 was Relish in Maryborough – where we set up in conjunction with local business – Café Connections for coffee tasting and education.

During COVID the mobile coffee business was very quiet – I was part-time Barista and part-time Electrician, I left the mines and came home in June 2021 for good.

I really enjoyed the coffee cart idea and soon realised I couldn’t afford a van to go mobile properly – so I started looking for a space where I could wheel the coffee cart into and try it as a ‘pop-up’ shop. I found a small 20 square metre shop and decided to sign a lease and give it a go… that was October 2021.

Official open day was 1st November 2021 (Melbourne Cup Day) – our new little shop in Pialba, surrounded by small businesses & and coffee loving office workers. Full of excitement and anticipation to meet the locals and offer great service and ‘SERIOUSLY. GOOD. COFFEE.’

One month into the opening The OBC, we were offered a new space in the same building but on the main road, street frontage – we jumped at it and scrambled into the new space over a 2 day weekend.

So, we did the move into the bigger space, the shop had more of a presence – people could see us. Straight away we got busy and the growth started reaching 50, 60 up to 70 coffees a day along with our grab-n-go selection of food.

We now have regular customers every day sometimes visiting 2 and 3 times a day and I think its super important to remember their names and favourite coffee – providing great service is key.

I have a fostered a personal relationship with all these people – coffee has a way of doing that.
We stayed in the second shop for 15 months. The OBC continued to grow every day.

It looked like we would soon need more room – sometimes we had 18 to 20 orders in queue with no standing room. The big shop now seemed like the little shop – only 3 metres wide and about 8 metres long. My prized collection of old vintage collectable “stuff” on display was feeling cramped… time to level up!

Not far down the road we found our current space – The shop is more accommodating in every way, has an awesome feel – inviting atmosphere that seats up to 14 people.

The acoustics and energy buzz each morning with the grind of coffee beans and chatter of the regulars.

The new shop has been welcomed by our new neighbours and all of our regular customers are still with us… meeting new people every day is definitely a great part of the job.

6 months in the new OBC space – it evolves constantly, we love it here.

The OBC “Original Bike Café” combines my passion for coffee and motorbikes.

I have been accused of collecting too many things over the past 40 years but I reckon I have found some cool stuff – but you need to come and have a look for yourself. It’s more than just great coffee, OBC is an experience.

I often get asked “Where do you find this stuff?”

I think it started at the age of 10 – it was probably a bottle cap I found that looked cool, I guess it didn’t stop, I feel drawn to interesting collectables. I enjoy the conversations with people, as they take a little trip down memory lane with me.

Some things in the shop people have given me – they are on display for them to see when they come in … they have that memory of a loved one or a life experience attached with the stuff and it brings joy to pass it on.

I run the Café on my own but honestly it doesn’t feel like work being able to make people happy in a simple, human, and important way – every day. This was a dream, that I’m now living.

I couldn’t have it done without the ongoing support of my family and friends.

The OBC – 7\19 Taylor Street Pialba, Hervey Bay.
Facebook & Instagram – The OBC