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52: 29 - Yardmill

Name: Yardmill
Address: 434 Toorak Road, Toorak
Served by : Jesse

We seem to be in a fortunate location near good old Toorak Village.  It’s provided us with a few opportunities to review some new cafes this year. And now a new player has entered the mix – Yardmill – and it comes with an arsenal of awesome design features.

So what’s good about Yardmill?

Upon pushing open the timber framed glass doors using a wonderful circular timber disc of a door handle this café-cum-kitchen-cum-grocery is one of the most honest fit outs we’ve seen in a very long time - we could spend this whole review talking about its materiality alone.  Yardmill achieves an incredible sensibility in all it’s selections that scream of quality design.  The terracotta colour tiles inside run from the floor to the front of the counter like any good Donovan Hill designer joinery and the slick zinc benchtop caps it beautifully. Its thin profile a very tidy detail.

This honesty continues throughout the space with hand made shingle style tiles to all walls and an abundance of finely crafted timber detailed throughout the space.  Even the fridge near the entry is one of the nicest we’ve seen, clad in galvanised steel with timber handles that transcend it’s humble purpose.  In fact, throughout this space there is no additional use of applied ‘colour’ – except in the similarily exquisitely designed merchandise and even that is a subtle green.  These materials are the raw and honest and it’s hard not to want to run your hand over everything.

Yardmill is not really a café.  It’s point of difference is all its locally sourced, in house made product which where possible is displayed oh so nicely.  And it’s not often we appreciate anything that resembles down lighting.  But the bank of soup can down lights over the display counter and the bank over the rear counter are totally inoffensive and highlight great product and workspace.

The small details in Yardmill aren’t overlooked either.  Apart from the timber door handle there is a timber ladder style joinery unit with finger joint boxes to store preserves and coffee beans and a couple of handy lengths of timber dowel attached to the wall, which conveniently work as both a hanger for the merchandise and a leaner for customers. At the end of these rails is the pastry area where pastry chefs prepare food for sale and the act of making is on display. 

This place is the complete package.  Good food.  Good coffee. Clever and well planned layout with an amazing fitout and even more amazing is that the logo and branding is so well considered.  The Yardmill icons and logo are well conceived, sophisticated and distributed neatly across all merchandise, menus, business and loyalty cards.

What could be better about Yardmill?

This one is an obvious one to those who have been to Yardmill – if you order a coffee to have there, it’s a bit of a challenge to sit down an drink it!  At present Yardmill has only 3 stools indoors and in reality that’s about all they can fit.  Which makes it a challenge to go there with a friend, sit down and enjoy a quiet coffee.

And there is also a bit of a lack of street presence.  Yardmill is new and still finding it’s feet and a source of regular customers.  But some outdoor seating and if possible some additional external signage to pull in the customers will help convert passers-by into regulars.

What’s its thing?

Honestly, it’s honesty.  It’s rare to enter a space and see a palette of materials that are so truthfully represented, and don’t have some kind of applied finish to alter the look or feel of the product.  Yardmill is one of these few and so many designers could learn from this sophisticated design and restraint in material selection.

Defining Design Details

  • Timber
  • Terracotta coloured tiles
  • Zinc benchtop
  • Amazing shingle clad walls
  • I don’t even want to add any more description to this, these materials say it all.

The success of a café is most definitely way more than just the quality of the fitout.  Don’t get me wrong, Yardmill is one of the most exciting places we’ve been this year. But it won’t be a success without great customer service and if you ever want to chat to anyone about coffee I absolutely recommend stopping in and chatting with Yardmill Barrista Jesse.  He’s passionate about coffee and makes a great first impression.  Just what a quality place like Yardmill needs.