Reflecting on 10 Years of Good Times, Great Mates and Damn Fine Specialty Coffee
on Nov 23, 2023
Ten years ago, three lifelong mates came together with an idea to combine two of the best things Australia has to offer – its epic coastal lifestyle and thriving cafe culture – in an effort to share their love of top-notch specialty coffee with others. Little did they know that one day their brand would end up pouring in some of the best cafes across the country, on shelves at major supermarkets and in the pantries of coffee-lovers all throughout Australia.
“When things first began, we had no idea what Will & Co would become or where it would take us,” says Will & Co Director, Josh Passaro. “If you told us that, 10 years on, we’d be supplying cafes all around Australia, we probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been a hell of a ride so far.”
Back in 2013, things started out small, supplying coffee to friends’ cafes in Bondi, including North Bondi’s Porch & Parlour which still pours Eight-O-Eight to this day. A decade on, you can find Will & Co at cafes in nearly every Aussie state and territory, from east coast to west, because good things are worth sharing. But they’re not just any cafes – Will & Co selectively works with the best in the biz.
“One of the major highlights of the decade has been building relationships with our cafe partners,” says Josh. “I know that sounds a bit naff, but over the years, many of them have become more than just partners, they’ve become mates, and it’s so great to be able to support them and see their businesses flourish.”
Will & Co has also opened a few spots of its own in Sydney and Brisbane, including the Will & Co HQ Tasting Bar right in the heart of Bondi Beach.
“The opening of our HQ Tasting Bar is definitely one of the major highlights when we look back on the past ten years,” says Josh.
“We love supplying cafes, but there is something really special about having your own space to control the brand and customer experience – from the coffee menu to the bespoke crockery and the music that accompanies the first sip,” he says.
“Our Bondi HQ has also helped us cultivate new partnerships by allowing us to open the space up to the local community and various groups within it. We’ve turned the space into a thrift shop to help minimise fast fashion, hosted local art exhibitions, end of season social swim club parties, local artisan product launches and a tonne of other events.”
These partnerships and community events are a big part of the Will & Co story. Over the years, Will & Co has proudly supported and partnered with Pledge for the Planet, the Bondi Penguins, Bondi High, the Bondi and North Bondi Surf Clubs, OneWave, Transition Bondi and many more local organisations.
“We’ve always been a community-focused business and I think that’s because we understand the importance of coffee within a community. Whether you live in Bondi or Broome, the local cafe is an integral part of any community – coffee and relationships go hand in hand,” says Josh.
“Partnering with local community and charity groups is why we do what we do; we’re passionate about making a positive impact and love to give back.”
Will & Co is equally as passionate about supporting Australian artists and artisans through collaboration: “We’ve done a tonne in this space including bespoke crockery, large murals on the sides of buildings, limited edition takeaway cups, booze collabs and more. Having the opportunity to engage with Aussie artists to help activate and elevate our cafe partners brings us great joy,” says Josh.
Three artists worth giving a special shout-out to are WA-based illustrator, Chris Nixon, local Bondi artist, Steve Smith, and Emiel Saada. Chris and Steve have been part of the crew since the early days, and together brought the artwork for Will & Co’s espresso bar on George Street and the Bondi HQ Tasting Bar to life. The fingerprints of all three artists can be found at nearly every Will & Co partner café, whether on an a-frame, custom signage or mural. Each of them has been pivotal in the Will & Co journey thus far.
There have been heaps of special business collaborations over the years too, including with Bondi Beer (our mouths are still watering over that White Coffee Stout) and Bondi Liquor Co. (coffee vodka, anyone?), plus a custom line of keep cups from Porch Ceramics and bespoke crockery for the Bondi HQ Tasting Bar created in partnership with Splendid Wren Ceramics.
None of these relationships would be possible without what Will & Co does best: coffee. To say it’s been a massive decade of innovation on the coffee front would be an understatement. Since the initial launch of Eight-O-Eight – their signature blend that started it all – Will & Co has crafted new blends (Three-Oh-Three, Goofy and Natural), rotated through some incredible single origins (roasted at their HQ in Bondi) and developed a bunch of new products including Nespresso-compatible pods, super convenient pour overs and a specialty coffee concentrate (available at Woolworths Supermarkets across Australia).
“It’s pretty incredible to think about all the innovation over the past decade,” Josh shared.
“We’ve always wanted to make specialty coffee more accessible, which is why we expanded our line up beyond your traditional beans and grounds into coffee capsules, individual pour overs and coffee concentrate. Many people love the convenience of a Nespresso* capsule machine, so that one was a no-brainer to us,” he noted.
“Pour overs and coffee concentrate are a bit more unique and let you enjoy quality coffee wherever you find yourself – whether on the beach after an early morning surf, camping over a long weekend with your mates or when you’re on the go for work.”
While Josh and his team have taken time during Will & Co’s 10-year celebrations to reflect on the epic journey they’ve had so far, they’re even more excited for all the memories to come. We’re talking new cafes, new products, new partnerships, new events, and new mates.
“I’m really excited to see the brand evolution continue over the next decade, especially collaborating with new and existing artists and cafe partners and working more closely with our charity and community organisations,” says Josh.
“To see where we’ve come from and where we’re at now is extremely encouraging; we’re on a great trajectory and I feel really positive about the next 10 years,” he says.
Will & Co’s original mission was to share Bondi’s unique coastal lifestyle and coffee culture with the rest of the country. Ten years on, that mission has been extended to include the world.
“We feel the brand, our ethos and our people will resonate well in many parts of the globe,” says Josh.
Safe to say the Will & Co journey is just getting started...