Power couple, Richard and Melissa Schramm were living in Melbourne when they decided to move back to Tassie 11 years ago to open up their first small business. Now they serve up delicious coffee to the people of Hobart. We chatted to Richard to learn more about their journey.
PM: Where did the idea spark from to begin Villino?
RS: We were living in Melbourne (I was working in IT and Melissa was finishing her teaching degree) and we decided we wanted to move back to Tasmania for the next stage of our lives. I always had business ideas ticking away in the background, and saw an opportunity to bring some delicious coffee to the people of Hobart. Lots of research, some sneaky lunchtime barista courses, a weekend job pulling shots and many late nights on spreadsheets (nothing has changed) we took the plunge and moved back to Tasmania with no firm plans but lots of grand ideas!
PM: What's your background?
RS: After growing up in Sydney, Melissa and her family moved to Tasmania in the late nineties for a fresh start and a break from life in Sydney. Melissa completed an arts (psychology) degree in Hobart, and then a teaching degree. I grew up in Tasmania and after doing a Commerce degree took a graduate position with Accenture in Melbourne. I worked on large IT projects in Melbourne, Sydney, and Scotland before making the move back home to Tassie.
PM: Who is your team made up of?
RS: Legends! We have an amazing team of industry professionals, some of whom have been with us for many years. We’re super proud of the team we have around us and they do an amazing job day in and day out, bringing quality coffee to the people of Tasmania.
PM: What do you want people's experience to be at Villino and what is your point of difference?
RS: We simply want our customers to enjoy delicious coffee and enjoy themselves. They can go as far down the rabbit hole of specialty coffee as they like, we’re always up for a chat, or they can come in and just enjoy a tasty coffee with no fuss. Our biggest point of difference is that we roast our own coffee and we are one of the longest standing specialty coffee businesses in Hobart. Our little café is the ‘cellar door’ to one of the largest specialty coffee roasters in the state. We draw on a lot of experience and knowledge, to source, roast and brew coffee and we want our customers the taste the difference in every cup.
PM: How many years have you been a business owner?
RS: Villino was our first business, and we opened in 2007 – 11 ½ years ago!
PM: Most valuable lesson you have learnt from years in business?
RS: Never burn a bridge. Especially in Tasmania (we didn’t burn any, but we’re glad we didn’t).
PM: Why do you think it is so important for a business to give back directly to it's community?
RS: It's the community who enable small business to survive, without the support of the local community our business wouldn't exist. We try and give back as much as we can - whether it be donating coffee sacks to a local farmer and some coffee beans to a silent auction, or getting behind larger charities such as Movember, Stay ChatTY or Café Smart, we try and do our bit to say thanks and support those around us.
PM: A whole range of different people frequent your cafes. Have you made any long lasting friends from the shop?
RS: A great café can be a like a second home to people (‘Villino’ in fact translates to ‘Small home with a yard’). We have regulars that have been coming in for years and years and are part of the Villino family. We hear about their lives, and it's a privilege to be part of their daily routine. Many great friendships have blossomed between staff and with customers over the years. It is an amazing feeling to think that people have crossed paths and become friends because of something we created.
PM: What is your favourite thing to do other than work?
RS: Life is busy with our work and young family but when we get some rare downtime we love to spend time with our little ones, and try and grab some mini-breaks and trips away. I'm a keen cyclist and can be seen struggling up Bonnet Hill early some mornings.
PM: Favourite style of coffee?
RS: There are so many! A good African coffee is hard to go past. In particular, a washed Kenyan brewed as a V60 pour-over to bring out the blackcurrant notes (think Ribeena) brings back good memories. As a daily routine, a flat white and a doppio usually hit the spot pretty well, and if you’re on the run, Batch Brew is your friend!
PM: You’ve been drinking coffee for a large proportion of your life. How old were you when you had your first sip?
RS: Surprisingly, coffee came into our lives pretty late in the piece; we even got through uni without harnessing it’s well known benefits! The early memories are of instant coffee that mum and dad would brew for visitors, maybe that’s why it took us a while to get past it and find the good stuff!
PM: A big congratulations is in order as we know you and Mel are expecting your third baby. Mel hides it well! Do you plan to introduce your kids to the coffee business?
RS: Thank you! Yes, we’re super excited to be welcoming our third little one into the world early next year. We love the idea of the kids being able to work in the business as they get older. There isn’t much interest from them yet to be honest, but we’re sure it'll come! We had jobs from a young age and think it is important for them to learn the values that come from working hard, so there wont be any special treatment (well maybe only a little)!
PM: If you had a super power what would it be?
RS: Definitely doing the washing up from the couch. Or pausing time so you can fit more into the day!
PM: What appeals to you most about Tas?
RS: We love the size and pace of Tasmania. Having lived in a few bigger cities, it’s refreshing to be living and working in a place where it's easy to get around, has a community feel, and is a safe place for raising a family. There's also a lot of opportunity here if you're willing to work hard and blaze your own trail.
PM: Core business values?
RS: Quality. Consistency. Being a great place to work. Never stop Improving. Drink heaps of coffee.
Richard wears Assembly Label, Dr Denim Heywood Chinos, Rains Long Jacket and the Brixton Arlo Jacket.
Melissa wears the Lois Hazel Tie Tank and Transverse Coat.
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