Our Home Life Series is a weekly sneak peek into the homes and lives of Australia's most creative and inspiring people.
This week on the Home Life Series we’re hanging out in the farmhouse of our dreams with Penny Collins, the incredibly talented powerhouse behind cafe Coffetti Gelato. Penny’s cafe is the beating heart of the coastal town Barwon Heads, a beacon for friendships sustained over morning coffee catch ups and afternoon ice creams. Her dreamy farmhouse has that same sense of warmth and love, we can’t wait to show you around.
1. Let’s start with a little bit about your career - how did you end up running the cutest cafe on the Bellarine?
Now that’s a compliment! Well, way back I studied hairdressing, then after 11 years of that, I decided to move into hospitality…. Long story short, I worked in a restaurant wine bar in Melbourne for 9 years, at that time I was ready to begin my own venture. I went into partnership with the owners of the restaurant and opened ‘Grapeseed’ in High St Armadale. At the same time, I found out I was pregnant with our first baby Charlie. We opened the café and 3 weeks after giving birth, I was back working full time. Fast forward, we found our farm, moved down from Melbourne and spent time with the kids. When we heard Coffetti was for sale, we felt it was the right time for me to get back into something, and after being a customer I absolutely loved going there…. And so we bought it!
2. What about the cafe gets you out of bed in the morning?
It’s absolutely our loyal customers…. I’ve heard people say, Coffetti is the little “heartbeat of the town." That’s enough to put a big smile on my face and do what I do. I think I have always loved giving people a good time or a great experience, weather that be at home entertaining or throughout my hospitality career. There is nothing better than arriving for the start of the day at 5.30am in the dark. Not long after, our very special swimming and walking groups arrive after having had their cold dip in the ocean. I know it's their favourite part of their day… they look so happy and alive. They are incredibly loyal to me. The other special time of the day is after school ice cream time. We get mobbed by the kids, and then they go across the road to the grass hill and sit together in the sun. It's pure joy for them and me!
3. Tell us about the delicious food at the cafe - what’s the crowd favourite?
I would have to say the crowd favourite is our homemade ice cream! We also have loads of yummy treats, pending on the season. We have really enjoyed trying new salads over summer, otherwise we have house made baguettes, bagels, toasties, lots of beautiful pastries and we make the best banana bread & apple cake. We also have vegan slices as we have lots of vegan and vegetarian customers.
4. Other than your cafe, what are your top five things to do in Barwon Heads?
Walking the bluff either on my own, or with friends. Taking a picnic/drinks down to the river and watching the kids jetty jump. Dining in at Che Vuoi (Italian) they are our neighbours, and they are super fun. Visiting the Wine Store and chatting about new options for us to try, they always have interesting bottles. Sneaking upstairs to Kendall at Atico beauty for an amazing treatment. She is a magician!
5. You live on a beautiful farm nearby - tell us about your home and your community?
We were lucky to find this little piece of paradise about 7 years ago. The little farmhouse was unliveable when we walked through it. So after a really quick 9 week reno, we moved in. We kept in mind whilst renovating, that it wouldn’t be home forever. The plan is to build a new home in the paddock sometime soon. So, we kept the reno simple. On top of the kids, we also have Bromley the beagle, Whoopi the Suffolk sheep, 3 aged goats and 6 chickens.
The community here in our little village is incredible. They look out for each other, and each other’s kids.
They have been so supportive of me taking over the little shop, very loyal! I took over the shop in Covid, so for me I don’t really know what normal is as far as trading and have been extremely lucky to have remained open the whole way through. Even through the thick of Covid, when families were locked up for a long period, other families would pop in and do mass coffee, food and ice cream drops to their friends. Pretty cool.
I also have the most wonderfully supportive staff. All of them stayed and came on the adventure with me, I’m very grateful.
6. How would you describe your own interiors style?
I think we create warm homely spaces, with eclectic bits that we have collected along the way. I’m not shiny, so therefore, lots of matt finishes, muted tones and not a lot of fuss. I love flowers, and green leaf both at home and in the shop.
7. What’s your favourite piece in the house and why?
The Charles Blackman/ David Bromley red heart picture Ben gave me for our 10 year wedding anniversary. We have 3/5 prints and I love it so much.
8. What’s your favourite item in the latest Kip&Co range?
I have to say, I am a big fan of anything Kip. We love our beds dressed in fun Kip&Co! I love all the Enamelware which I’m now using in the shop. All the cutlery, serving spoons and cheese knives get an absolute work out. But, I now find myself buying lots of fun clothes which I can mix the prints and colours and they look awesome together.
9. Anything else you would like to mention?
You girls are so clever, thanks for having me!