Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

tinker tailor

Michelle Brotohusodo

Casey’s tinker tailor doesn’t look like any other café or bakery in Canberra.

Canberra is full of people who are passionate about what they do, and who love sharing their creations with others. When so much care is invested, it really shows in the results. So what happens when two (or more) of these people collaborate? Well, that becomes something really special—like tinker tailor in Casey.

tinker tailor is one of Canberra’s newest cafés, the brainchild of Red Brick Espresso’s Tim Manning and Knead Patisserie’s Andrew McCormack. I recently met with Tim, who explained how the idea came about.

“Red Brick’s first wholesale customer was Knead, and Knead now supplies Red Brick as well,” he said. “So Andrew and I knew that his bread (and pastries) and my coffee matched well. We each have our own shops, but we started talking about ways we could do things differently and how we might work together. tinker tailor was the result.”

MB tinkertailor sign

This difference is evident when you see tinker tailor. It doesn’t look like any other café or bakery in Canberra. It’s very open, with display counters of pastries, the coffee machine, and staff set up in the middle. Bags of coffee line shelves against a wall, alongside baguettes and loaves of bread.

MB tinkertailor wall

“The space is designed to be interactive for customers,” Tim said. “I wanted to break down the barrier of the traditional model, where customers stand in front of the counter and can’t see the process of making coffee and the effort that the baristas go to.”

He explained that the layout also made it easier for staff. As the baked goods and coffee machine are so close together, it allows the staff to work more efficiently, so they can focus more on customer service. I got to experience this firsthand, with an impromptu coffee lesson from one of the baristas, Gabe. I need to state at this point that I am not a coffee drinker—I usually don’t even like the smell.

Gabe talked me through Red Brick’s three blends of coffee: Cypher, Seasonal, and Moneyball. He started me off easy, with a milky cup of Seasonal, which he got me to try without stirring, then with. To my utter surprise, I didn’t mind it too much—especially after I added some sugar (though Tim’s tip was that eating a pastry at the same time would negate the need to add sugar. Any excuse to eat a danish or croissant is fine with me!).

MB tinkertailor coffee

Next was a cup of Cypher, also with milk but with a completely different flavour. The Moneyball was the last, my look of fear at being presented with a straight black cup of coffee providing much amusement. Gabe’s knowledge and passion for coffee was evident, and Tim said this was one of the points of difference compared to some other places—tinker tailor’s (and Red Brick) baristas know what each blend is supposed to taste like, and take care to ensure that each cup of coffee is made to taste like it should.

“The quality of coffee is based on taste,” he said. “At tinker tailor we try and apply the same thing to everything we do.” This extends to the baked goods (which are made with no preservatives) and even down to things like the milk used (sourced directly from a dairy in Dubbo), and the flour that Knead uses. Speaking of Knead, the goodies on offer range from bread, pastries, slices, tarts, brownies, and artisan lamingtons, to pies, sausage rolls and savoury danishes and croissants.

MB tinkertailor sweets

The ‘craft and science’ that Tim and Andrew apply to their work is what inspired the name of the café, taken from the first two words of an 18th century children’s poem: Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. While the poem refers to the nouns, the verbs are certainly a perfect way to describe what Tim and Andrew do: tinkering and tailoring their products until they’re happy with them, then sharing their creations with us all.

The essentials
The place: tinker tailor
Where: 15 Kingsland Parade, Casey
When: Monday-Thursday 7.30am-5pm, Friday 7.30am-6pm, Saturday 7.30am-5pm, Sunday 7.30am-4pm
Food: Knead Patisserie Bread, pastries, tarts, sweets, pies, sausage rolls, brownies, lamingtons, slices
Drink: Red Brick Espresso coffee, Larsen & Thompson tea
Contact: Visit their Facebook page or email [email protected]


Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. More than 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author