PEOPLE'S CHOICE: You'll find more than a great coffee at ESP
INSTEAD of being tucked into bed on a Saturday morning, you will find ESP Espresso owner Kristy Conroy at the coffee machine, her preferred start to the weekend. Born and bred in Grafton, the cafe Ms Conroy took over 12 years ago has special significance. "Like most, I started in hospitality - I learnt to make coffee when I was 14. I actually bought this business off the people who had given me my first job when I was 14, so it came full circle," she said. "I only show up for my customers any more. I can stand there and look through the door and they are people who have supported me for 11 and 12 years." Regular customers are far more than that at ESP - everyone is a good mate. "It has gotten to the point where if you are one of our dailies, one of our regulars, and you are going away for a day you have to notify us because we are going to worry about you!" she said. Over more than a decade the Prince St business has changed dramatically. "When I came here there was four coffee machines in a block-and-a-half radius," she said. Now with cafes sprouting up throughout the CBD, Ms Conroy said it was her staff that were the real reason customers kept coming back. Award winners will be named on August 3 at the Clarence River Jockey Club. Tickets via valleyexcellence.org.au.