Cafe Profile: Grizzly Espresso

Grizzly Espresso

Starting with a nothing more than a used car, and a dream to bring specialty coffee to their local community – owners Clay & Kelly have brought a whole lot of heart and soul to this neighbourhood espresso bar.

That neighbourhood is Woonona, nestled between the Illawarra escarpment and the Pacific ocean just north of Wollongong. While It’s not far from Sydney, it’s a spot that has somehow managed to hold on to it’s seaside village feel.

Since first opening their doors back in April 2017, business has grown steadily as more & more locals make Grizzly part of their routine. It’s a testament to the quality of what they do, and the connection they have built with the community.

Clay’s journey in hospitality started years earlier when he landed a casual gig making coffee at Jamberoo Theme Park while studying commerce at Uni. After several stints working in telecommunications, Clay just kept on coming back to coffee.

Learning the craft working stints at quality cafes around town, such as Gather Coffee House at Appin, the plans for a place of their own began to form. “I had a business plan in my computer somewhere that I’d come and play around with every now and then…when I did get made redundant and the time was right, I had something already there.” says Clay.

The planning paid off when an opportunity presented itself

“We literally went out for dinner one night and then on the way home saw this spot was for lease and said “why not”…three weeks later we locked in a lease” explains Clay.

Grizzly Flat White

Sell a car, start a business

To get the business off the ground, Clay & Kelly had to get creative, “I sold my wife’s car for about 12 grand…half of that was the rent and bond in advance, so the fitout was literally about six or seven grand” says Clay

It took some hard work, and a whole lot of help from friends, but they made it happen. Using some clever DIY, like pouring the concrete benches on site and making the tables and chairs by hand, they were able to keep costs to a minimum.

The end result is a warm and inviting space, thanks to the north-facing windows, earthy handmade finishes and the cute Grizzly graphics – inspired by the cafes they visited in Canada.

Grizzly Design


As you would expect for a serious coffee bar – the menu is built around coffee, complimented with a small but tasty selection of sweet treats and pastries.

As the business has grown, so have their plans – they are about to launch a new range of more substantial breakfast & lunch items as the weather starts to cool. Items like smoothie bowls, avocado on sourdough with feta & pomegranate are a taste of what’s in store.

When it comes to coffee, it’s options galore.

On espresso, you’ve got your choice from the toffee / caramel sweetness of the house blend (Blank Canvas) or the ever changing Single Origin options (I had the Costa Rica Jaguar Honey…delish).

Add to that, batch-brew filter coffee & hip flasks of cold brew, and there’s enough caffeine to power the Illawarra region.

Grizzly Espresso

373 Princes Hwy
Woonona, NSW

Mon-Fri: 6am-2:30pm
Sat: 7:30am-midday
Sun: Closed

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If you’re also considering opening a cafe, check out our step-by-step guide and download the checklist to help get you started.


Ben Irvine
From owner / operator of his own coffee business, to product development for a coffee multinational, to consulting with independent cafe owners, Ben has been involved across a wide range of the industry over the last 20 years. When he isn’t brewing coffee, or writing about it, Ben is likely to be annoying his kids with 90’s music trivia.