Emily Keenan left Broken Hill to pursue her dreams, one of which was to learn about everything that went into the perfect cup of coffee. Many years later, she brought that knowledge and passion back home, and now runs one of the brightest and busiest spots on the Broken Hill café scene.
Australians are, without a doubt, renowned for their love of coffee. We drink an average of just over nine cups of coffee every week, and our hunt for the ‘real thing’ has seen a marked increase in the number of cafes sprouting up around us. However that trend is not confined to urban areas – Emily Keenan and her family run The Silly Goat in Argent Street, a fresh, urban-style café that has put Broken Hill firmly on the coffee map of the outback.
Broken Hill born and bred, Emily left after high school in pursuit of “adventures”. She spent three years living and working in Sydney and Brisbane, developing a profound love of coffee and an ambition to find the formula for the perfect drop. “You need to be working in the city to get good at what you do,” she believes. “That's the only way you get put under the most pressure you could be. You see what it's really like when you're under the pump.”
At that time, Emily’s Mum was running a smaller café on the current site of The Silly Goat, but as her children left town, she was finding it increasingly difficult to run the place by herself. Emily originally returned with the intention of only staying for a short time, but the allure of establishing a shrine to coffee was too good to resist.
Fast forward to 2015 and you’ll find both locals and tourists pouring into The Silly Goat to enjoy the perfect espresso coffee and a unique contemporary menu – one that wouldn’t look out of place on a chalkboard in Sydney or Melbourne, but all made from fresh local ingredients.
But while Emily has undoubtedly brought sensational city flavours to the heart of the outback, she has also called on her family to add that quintessential Broken Hill touch. You’ll find her brother Gideon behind the coffee machine most mornings and her mother and sister contribute to the healthy “creative cooking” that enlivens the menu. “The best thing about doing it with your family is that you have faith - because you'll always be there for each other. It makes all the difference in running your own business.”
“We wanted it to be everything that my family is about - a fun place to be and a casual, relaxed environment. I didn't want it to feel like a fine dining restaurant or a pub. I wanted it to go hand in hand with feeling homely and healthy - feeding people as though they were our family.”
Given the success of the café, Emily and her family now see an even greater opportunity to satisfy the appetite of their customers, which certainly means that both Emily and The Silly Goat are very much here to stay. “At the moment, we simply can't provide the space to cater for all the people that want to be fed on a Saturday and Sunday morning – so we're going to expand and get bigger. We want to introduce other food options and be able to retail our products as well. I also want to support local live musicians and give them a venue to feel comfortable in, without having the pressure of performing at night in a pub. It's a journey - we're on the first steps at the moment; it's just a matter of time as to when we get there.”
One of the major perks of running your own café is that you are guaranteed a great cup of coffee at any time. Emily, by her own admission, is “fussy and particular” about her coffee, and insists on making her own.
But as the resident full-time barista, her brother Gideon is also well-versed in pouring the perfect brew. “I taught him a lot of what he knows,” says Emily, “You'd think that would make me the better barista, but he's been practicing a lot. He might pour a better latte than me – but I think that it’s up to our customers to decide!”
The Silly Goat is located at 360 Argent St, Broken Hill, NSW.