When news came that wildfires were blazing through Australia, causing immense damage and death, a St. Augustine Australia-themed eatery, The Kookaburra Coffee, launched a one-week initiative pledging a portion of its sales to be donated to WIRES Wildlife Rescue and New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
“Australia needs our help,” Kookaburra’s official Instagram posted. “An estimated 1 billion animals and two dozen people have been killed by the fires. More than 25 million acres have been set ablaze and 2,000 homes have been destroyed. And fire season isn’t over yet.”
The post added that the week of Jan. 13 to 18, they would be donating to the cause, and “our friends over at Swillerbees, The Hyppo Coffee Bar and M.C. Pressure will also be joining us in the effort.”
The local businesses raised $2,500 to donate to the foundations, which are “huge and very influential,” according to Kookaburra’s director of sales Brittany Vidal.
“Our community is incredible,” Vidal said. “We're always deeply moved by the generosity and caring of customers and local businesses. It was so important, not only for the owner, but the staff, too.”
Vidal was referring to Aussie-American Spencer Hooker, who co-owns Kookaburra with partner Megan Vidal, and who opened the first coffee shop in downtown St. Augustine in 2012.
Since then, Kookaburra has expanded all over St. Augustine, offering not only coffee, but Aussie pies. Some, like the Triple S (sausage, sweet potato and spinach), were created by staff members while others like the Thai Chicken Chili and Veggie Coconut Curry are family recipes from Hooker’s childhood.
“It’s my favorite,” Vidal said about the Triple S. “The greasiness of the sausage with the sweet potato makes it magical and there’s a little bit of healthiness with the spinach.”
The Aussie business may be far from home, but its soul is rooted in the Down Under, not only showing St. Augustine a different side to the Outback, but also helping it.
“Spencer’s uncle lives here,” Vidal said. “Megan and Spencer were visiting, walking around town and said, ‘You know what this place needs? A great coffeeshop. And that’s where it all began.”
Kookaburra Coffee also supports local environmental causes and charities as it is a huge part of the Kookaburra ethos. The staff is currently working with Fostering Connections to provide support for children aging out of the foster care system, as well as The Sea Turtle Hospital at UF Whitney Lab, to support sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation.
For more on The Kookaburra Coffee, visit www.thekookaburracoffee.com.