The face of the Adelaide CBD is changing rapidly; construction and development are hitting the heart of the city and revitalising every edge. Before the momentum started to swing though, Sam Carey saw an opportunity tucked away on Gilbert St in the quiet south west corner of the geometrically perfect square that makes up the central area, opening his dream café, Paddy’s Lantern.

The story of Paddy’s Lantern is as long as the specialty coffee movement in South Australia and the key players in the stories preface are all caffeinated successes. Sam started in hospitality as a kitchen hand after window cleaning for a year. After a couple of customers broke their noses on his immaculate windows he moved inside the restaurant and brought with him his meticulous attention to detail. In 2006 Sam suffered a back injury, which required five and a half years of rehab and with which he still lives with today. When I asked why he wanted to set up a café, Sam’s answer was that “it was a personal holistic approach to a sort of rehab for me, after years of solitary confinement from spine surgeries”. Sam’s coffee journey had already begun before he set up Paddy’s in 2008 though as a regular drinker and ‘caffeine dependant’ at some of Adelaide’s finest establishments including Bar9, Coffee Branch and the Stirling Patisserie. Sam still recounts a story of an iconic coffee experience:

My respect and love for coffee, specifically Five Senses coffee, blossomed. I still remember a moment, a PNG we called Mt Killer, made by Dave Moen as a double latte at Ol’ Bar9… That moment cannot be recreated.

This was one of the earliest Five Senses direct trade coffees near the Elimbari region in PNG called PNG, Mount Kila. Fond memories at the roastery too.

Sam has recently brought James Hanus, his longest serving staff member and head barista, on as a partner in the business to help carry the load and push Paddy’s Lantern into the future. James has jumped in with both feet having been so familiar with the café already and has started to add his personal touch to the operations of the café. At the start of this year Paddy’s hired their first chef, Benny, and has started to make some changes to the food menu that they have been offering. The food menu is very approachable and written on blackboards behind the bar, their focus is on the freshness of the food and that it is thoughtfully prepared and served. The OG trout, smoked ocean trout by Harris on Mylor Pumpkin Sourdough with horseradish cream cheese has a cult following. James says:

We all have dreams and ideas about where the menu should be going, or what dishes we should be serving, but in reality it’s not easy in a small space to rapidly change a menu. For me, that had been the biggest thing to get my head around — the efficient balance of progression and consistency.

The attention to detail definitely rolls through the coffee programme at Paddy’s Lantern and the never ending queue of regulars are without question the beneficiaries! A 3 group Synesso Hydra pumps out an ever changing house blend, Sam and James buy singles and blend them in store each day to achieve the flavour balance they want out of the coffee. When I went in for a quick long black, the blend was composed of Five Senses Colombian Primaveral and Costa Rican San Lorenzo. This will be sure to change soon to keep the coffee fanatics on their toes and the coffee delicious!

Sam and James are both really excited about what’s coming up in the business; Sam sums it up by saying:

I personally am excited to refine what we do already. The team at Paddy’s is made up of inspirational, aspirational positive people who all have hospitality in their bones.

Next up at Paddy’s Lantern is the release of a Coffee Milk Stout, using the Paddy’s house blend in collaboration with Mismatch Brewing Company — which should be coming out in August. Make sure you get in and ask the guys about it, I missed out on the last lot!

Paddy’s Lantern
219 Gilbert Street,
Adelaide SA 5000

Opening hours
Monday – Friday: 7:00am — 3:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am — 2:00pm

Instagram: @paddyslantern
Facebook: PaddysLantern
Twitter: @paddyslantern

© Photos provided with permission by Ryan Cantwell. All rights reserved by photographer

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