Cafe Profile: Little Legends, Manly

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If you venture down a laneway from the famous Manly Corso, you find the unassuming, but surprising, Little Legends Cafe. It’s like finding a little slice of Melbourne – with a killer surf break around the corner.

When you first meet Ivo, the owner, it doesn’t take long to see his passion for detail and quality.

He explains, “I wanted to create something where you get consistent, high quality, personable service…You really have to be on your toes and cut no corners with your supplier selection, your staff selection.”

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The focus at Little Legends is less about catching the next wave of fashion, and more about getting the details right. From the meticulously-sourced local ingredients, to the hand-painted mermaid mural that greets you as you walk down the lane, this approach is already starting to pay off.

“I think the recipe really is to keep it small, personable… that’s what locals enjoy,” Ivo explains.

Ivo’s love for great food started growing up in the town of Freiburg, Germany, cooking meals with his family. His big opportunity came early on when he landed a job working with a Michelin-star chef at a restaurant in his hometown.

Ivo recalls, “We were really close to the French border, so we’d go to France a fair bit, so it was a great experience and that exposed me to all the different dishes and techniques that are being applied, developed my palate.”

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After travelling the world working as a chef, Australia presented more than one compelling reason as a base to settle down with his family and set up his own business.

“I basically followed the waves. I used to be a skateboarder when I was a kid and a snowboarder. And at the age of 15 I went to Hawaii and thought, I’m going to be a surfer.”

While the business is finding its groove now, it wasn’t without issues getting this far. Ivo recounts the long struggle of getting this business off the ground: a year-long approval process, heritage requirements, acoustic reports, engineering certificates. And then, to top it all off, his builder walked out on day one of construction… Not what you want to hear when you’re trying to start a new business.

But press on they did, and finished results are beautiful. The laneway espresso bar atmosphere is a nice contrast to the large, tourist-focussed cafes of Manly Corso.


When it comes to menu, Ivo’s philosophy is all about simple, done well. Take his approach to the classic Bircher Muesli.

“It’s really not a secret, how to do a good Bircher, the key success factors [for me] are freshly grated apple, lemon juice, top quality nuts and fresh berries,” he explains.

Another local favourite, is their unique take on avocado on toast. Called ‘Surfers Hungry’, they add goats curd, strawberries and Jalapeño – it pops with flavour, adding interest to another cafe staple.

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For coffee, Little Legends is serving up our Wilde blend (Gold-medal winning espresso blend at the 2017 Australian International Coffee Awards). They’re getting fruit-bomb sweetness as a black coffee and an almost ‘strawberries-and-cream’ smoothness with milk.

Coffee equipment is the benchmark combination of Mythos One Grinder and La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine, described by his barista, Lee, as the ‘Fender Telecaster’ of espresso machines (i.e. an undisputed classic – for the non guitar players).

This kind of winning combination is one of many details that make Little Legends a great place to visit. And often, it’s the little things that make all the difference.


Little Legends Manly

7 Rialto Lane, Manly

Mon-Fri 6am-3pm

Sat-Sun 7am-4pm

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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.