Food and Drink


Acustico opens in Brunswick

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The first thing most cafe owners like to talk about is type of coffee they’re using or the food preparing, but not Diego Iraheta. When I enter just opened Acustico, the lovely chap behind the shiny espresso machine points excitedly to the wooden sleepers along the walls and tells me how they’re made from recycled railway sleepers and shipping crates. And that’s what this Brunwick cafe is really all about.

Seemingly every aspect at Acustico (acoustic in Spanish) has been considered for its environmental impact, and was designed by Mike Sharp & Jessica In from The Summer Office. The cafe is owned and operated by the rather remarkable Diego Iraheta, who arrived in Australia when his was one year old with his family fleeing the civil war in El Salvador. Diego was raised in Melbourne before moving back El Salvador, and has lived in Europe and the US before returning to Melbourne to open Acustico. He aims to start importing coffee directly from El Salvador and use any money he makes from the cafe to help build schools in his native country over the next two years.

And he means to do it as environmentally-consciously as he can. That means the Acustico”s loyalty cards are printed on the back of old cereal boxes, coffee grinds are put out nightly for neighbours to use as compost, coffee cups are biodegradable and there’s a vegie and herb garden in the works. But Acustico isn’t just a group hug, it’s a cafe, and Diego hasn’t forgotten the things that will bring customers coming in.

Coffee wise he uses Espresso Syndicate, a Richmond based company that sources Fair Trade coffee and only roasts twice a week to minimize power usage. Snacks reflect Diego’s heritage with a range of El Salvadorean sweets on offer. He explains “There’s no muffins here. I’m anti muffin. If someone comes in looking for something to have with their coffee I suggest dulce de leche, like we have in El Salvador.”

No muffin for you. Luckily dulce de leche tastes way better than a muffin. But that’s always going to happen when you stuff pastry with sweetened condensed milk. There are also Portuguese tarts (made by a local lady using an old family recipe), the less traditional Vegan ‘Refuel’ Bars and Salvadorean Alfajores, sweet biscuits often served at Christmas.

Savoury stuff includes arepas and foccacias with fillings like jamon serrano. And those visiting during quieter moments might get to here Diego play the Hang, a Swiss instrument he tinkers when things get quiet (you can also get his cd at the counter).

Coffee, food, an eco-ethos and music. Acoustico fits a lot under one (sustainable) roof.

32 Union St, Brunswick
Open daily 7am – 4pm

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