Every morning there's a long queue of discerning locals outside the window of an office kitchenette in regional Victoria waiting patiently for the best coffee in town.
They chat like it's happy hour at the pub while 20-year-old Lloyd Meadows brews their morning pick-me-up to perfection.
A visitor to Castlemaine would be surprised to learn Mr Meadows opened Tortoise Espresso when he was still at high school.
Each morning the teen entrepreneur would run his window from 8am to 11am before cycling three kilometres to school for afternoon classes.
"The school was very accommodating of it," he said.
"I think in a rural town the schools are happy if the kids do even just a bit of education while they're starting whatever else they want to do," he said.
The 1902 heritage building kitchenette was offered by a family friend on the proviso Mr Meadows made coffee for office staff.
"I don't think anyone expected it to become what it has," he said.
Playing café to serious business
The young entrepreneur always had the chops for a career in hospitality, his parents said.
He loved to play café as a child and, as soon as he could, Mr Meadows secured a job behind the coffee machine at the markets - practising latte art and weighing doses and shots for ideal extraction.
This precision style of coffee-making wasn't the pace of Wesley Hill Market in the Goldfields region of Victoria but it did give him an idea for his future business.
Setting the speed limit
If he owned a café, Mr Meadows thought, he could set the rules. Come to the window, place an order, take a seat on the stool provided and chat while he makes the coffee.
Then, and only then, does the next customer move up to place their order.
It's Tortoise Espresso by name and nature.
"I just want it to be a moment to stop and sit down as well as having a coffee that was prepared carefully with lots of love and attention," he said.
Tortoise Espresso stocks some of the world's most sought-after beans. Mr Meadows vacuum seals and freezes the small consignments to retain their freshness.
Their menu currently offers 56 different beans.
"There's a farm in Bolivia called Finca Takesi - it's the highest elevation coffee farm on the earth and five roasters in the world get access to it. Seven Seeds in Melbourne is the only one in Australia and it sells out in half an hour," he said.
Mr Meadows has two employees - fellow coffee lovers with the skills to make a perfect V60.
The baristas know each bean and tailor their coffee making to fit.
But there were few people suitable for the job.
Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie said "a tighter labour market means it's harder to find the talent that you need and so it's often about people hiring for attitude over aptitude".
"You may not get your list of prerequisite skills; you might have to compromise," she said.
Despite having opportunities to expand into a larger space, Mr Meadows said he would rather not make the trade offs of growing the café.
"When the business is small everything can be done way quicker and the passion can be more apparent," he said.
The business model restricts the cafe's expansion. They don't offer takeaway cups and, depending on how busy they are, reaching the head of the queue could take 20 minutes.
"I think the reason this works is because it started as a passion project and ended up being a passion project I could turn into a viable business.
"At the core of it all I still just want to make coffee."
Like Lloyd Meadows, I was a young regional entrepreneur in my early twenties. I lived in Armidale in the NSW Northern Tablelands and ran a farm-to-table degustation restaurant with my then-husband in the art gallery.
The community and culture that forms around a small town hang-out is heartwarming and I saw a lot of my old venue while visiting Tortoise Espresso.
Lloyd Meadows has retained the best part of the industry which is making a connection with the customer and creating a product you're proud of.
But he avoids the worst part - the unrelenting pressure.
He reminds the people of Castlemaine to stop and engage with the community around them.
And I think that's where the nicest parts of small town living begin.