In recent years, Adelaide has seen a huge amount of growth. The introduction of small bar licenses has seen the cultural nightlife flourish with bars like La Buvette and Clever Little Tailor, while a growing number of boutique coffee shops like Exchange and Please Say Please have been caffeinating the daytimes. More and more people are moving back to the city to fuel Adelaide’s trajectory, and the benefit to the town’s culture is undeniable.
Previous to the last couple of years, however, the coffee scene in Adelaide was bleak—a fact that Dominic and Saffy Ossa discovered when they opened their hair salon, DAS.Boutique, on Ebenezer Place in 2009—what’s now the thriving East End of the city. For Dominic and Saffy Ossa, quality coffee was an element that they wanted to be able to serve to complement the experience of getting a haircut at DAS, but quickly realized that they were surrounded by old-school, dark-roasted European-style coffee shops, which dominated the coffee scene at the time. With the hope of finding a solution, they took the plunge and in 2012 opened their own cafe right next to DAS.Boutique, called—with similarly inventive punctuation—Sad:café.
Chatting with Dominic Ossa, he explained that their original goal for the neighboring space was first and foremost to create a nice environment. “DAS was always a place for people to feel comfortable in, and we encourage customers to make themselves at home…this was a similar feeling that we moved over to Sad. Very homey, easygoing, non-pretentious kind of feeling. We sell haircuts, food, and coffee…you shouldn’t feel like you need to wear a button-up shirt or dress just to come in.”
While both venues are collectively owned by the Ossas, DAS is managed mostly by Saffy Ossa, while Dominic Ossa focuses on Sad. DAS has a lovely feel to it, with striking wooden furniture and large mirrors adorning the walls, while displays of antique taxonomy add a very unique character to the hairdressers’ stations. On the other side of the door, which joins the two spaces, Sad is warm and homey with reused timber making up a large portion of the fit-out, alongside furniture and bits and pieces from salvage yards.
At Sad, local produce is king, with a focus on South Australian food and coffee. Food offerings are simple and delicious, from bagels with an array of unique toppings (mushroom paté, anyone?) to a chicken and samphire salad, or even banana hotcakes for the sweet-tooth set. In the beginning, coffee was supplied by Barossa Coffee Roasters and Degroot, before the Ossas and their colleague Nick Suggit decided to go further down the rabbit hole and start roasting coffee at Dawn Patrol Coffee.
These days, only Dawn Patrol is served at Sad, via an ECM Controvento espresso machine alongside Mazzer grinders, and a Ditting for filter grinding. In being able to both roast and serve their own coffee, Dominic Ossa says “it’s great as we not only have the pleasure of controlling what we serve, but we also get instant feedback from customers and can change, improve, and tweak everything we do…we’re very lucky to have a direct connection with our product.”
In the future, the Ossas plan to continue innovating and growing, with an upcoming renovation of DAS set to transform it into a “sleeker, slightly ’70s industrial look,” while Sad will be switching out its Mazzer grinders for a pair of Compak grinders. Over the years, Dominic and Saffy Ossa have created a quiet achiever of an empire in Adelaide’s East End, slowly evolving and growing with each step—and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they come up with next.