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Book and bean lovers’ hidey-hole

Welcome to the Adelaide café where kindness is stretching all around the globe…

As soon as you walk in you are welcomed – not just by the friendly smiles of staff but simply by the ambience and warmth of Booknook and Bean; music playing away in the background, the soothing sound (and smell) of coffee grinding.

Instantly it’s like Booknook and Bean has slotted you into your own little hidey-hole, where you feel totally at home.

Owner Katherine Arguile (who co-runs the business with her husband Paul) is much the same.

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It doesn’t take long to feel comfortable chatting to her and to get a sense she is just as genuine as the cause that she, and the café, supports – a charity called Kiva, that provides loans to people in need.

“I love books, first of all, I would have loved a café bookshop – but then there was this idea of having people donate the books and then that money going to Kiva – and it fulfilled several streams of things that I wanted to have in a café,” Katherine says when asked about how it has all come about.

“I always felt like – just because of my background and the kind of work I used to do – I wasn’t doing anything that put anything back particularly.

“I wanted to do something that I would get pleasure out of but also would maybe help other people.

“So you know, the Kiva bookshop does both of those things – I love the books and at the same time I get to help people out with these Kiva loans.”

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Katherine explains the concept of Kiva as “sustainable giving” and the idea is that money is loaned and paid back – giving you a choice to allow that money to circulate and be put into other loans.

“I would love to have permanently circulating $10,000 plus.”

Since Booknook and Bean opened three months ago, they have raised $2300 from books that are either donated by others or that Katherine buys and donates herself.

“It’s beaten all my expectations,” Katherine says.

“It’s worked – I wasn’t sure if it would – I really wasn’t sure – I sort of feared half empty shelves and maybe raising $150 in the first month… we hit $2000 very quickly.”

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And it fits perfectly that the first person the coffee shop gave a loan to is a guy from Northern Nicaragua… who is a coffee grower!

Katherine doesn’t foresee an end to their relationship with Kiva – even if Booknook and Bean disappeared she would keep the money circulating in Kiva loans.

Unfortunately, as Booknook and Bean is part of the Renew Adelaide scheme, the disappearance of the café is a possibility and there is no guarantee they will be a permanent feature in Topham Mall.

“We’re given a contract and it’s about a 12 month minimum and then after that, they might ask us to leave,” Katherine says.

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“When we sign the contract we have to be prepared that it’s a pop-up and we might have to pull everything down and go.”

In some cases, commercial tenancies have been offered at the end of the initial contract.

“You know, we can’t ever assume that we’re going to stay but I just feel so at home, we all feel at home, and we’re really lucky with our customers,” Katherine says.

“We’ve got some regulars who come every day, sometimes several times a day – and I’d hope they’d miss us if we went.

“So keeping my fingers crossed.”

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Katherine also has a number of other projects, including writing a book and a PhD in creative writing and also Great Relish Nomadic Café, which she runs with Paul, on the go.

“We’ve had a coffee truck for four years – called Great Relish Nomadic Café – and it grew out of catering business that he started because he used to be a chef,” she says.

“This is kind of more my baby and the coffee truck is more his baby but he works here Tuesdays and Wednesdays – so we run it [Booknook and Bean] together.”

When deciding on the name of the café, Katherine was influenced by the name of their other venture.

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“I just wanted something that did what it said, that you could tell what it was ‘cause our coffee truck, people aren’t very sure – Great Relish sounds like a catering company, which it was,” she says.

“I wanted something with books and I wanted something with coffee.

“I did have another idea for a coffee shop name but it got taken very shortly after I decided that was what I was going to call it.”

But you’ll have to pop in for a coffee or gorgeous mint hot chocolate (or any other amazing flavour) to ask Katherine about that yourself…

Oh, and did I mention their hot chocolates are vegan and gluten free?

I’ll see you there.

Images: Brenton Edwards

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