16 January 2024

Todd and Elle floating on air as new Figtree venture hits the spot with locals

| Eileen Mulligan
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Todd and Elle Cordes with their horse float and George the dog.

Todd and Elle Cordes with their horse float which has been converted into a cafe at Aces Tennis and Futsal, Figtree. Photo: Eileen Mulligan.

Todd and Elle Cordes escaped the daily grind of their day jobs two years ago to travel around Australia – and to think about their future.

The result is Floating Brew cafe, tucked away off O’Briens Rd, Figtree at Aces Tennis and Futsal.

“I think we both had had an average day at work and thought, ‘What’s going on? Let’s change something up,’” Todd said. “I said to Elle, ‘Let’s do a lap’ and she said ‘Yep.’”

The couple took off on their seven-month odyssey in March 2022, travelling through the Southern Highlands, eastern Victoria and Tasmania.

A month into their trip, while visiting a winery on the Mornington Peninsula, Todd proposed to Elle.

“I was planning to do it in Tassie but I was having cold sweats about losing the ring,” he said. “I wanted it to be her responsibility, so I decided to do it a bit early.”

As winter approached, the couple headed north to Queensland and completed their circumnavigation of the continent in an anticlockwise direction.

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They were on the road in Western Australia when they decided to take the plunge and open a cafe at Aces Tennis and Futsal, which is owned by Elle’s family and where Elle grew up.

Elle and Todd remember well the moment they made their life-changing decision.

“It was a rainy day in Exmouth,” Todd said. “We were staying out on a homestead, and we just thought to ourselves it would be something cool to come back to.”

Initially they intended to buy a caravan to convert into a cafe, but at 188 cm, Todd was too tall for the average vintage caravan. Some online investigation revealed converting horse floats into cafes and bars was popular in England.

They found an old horse float for sale a little closer to home in the Illawarra.

Todd’s father Herb Cordes picked up the float in Albion Park Rail and parked it in his driveway for a few months until Todd and Elle returned in September 2022.

Meanwhile, Todd and Elle were working their way south along the WA coast, thinking up designs and planning how they wanted it to look.

“We’d draw the measurements in the sand because we hadn’t seen it; only Dad had seen it,” Todd said.

“We got home in late September and pretty much spent every weekend at my parents’ house with my dad renovating the old rust bucket of a horse float.

“Structurally it was good but there was surface rust everywhere. We were sanding and grinding for a few months until we got it in a good manageable state and that’s when we started to build the internal structure.”

A couple of Todd’s mates, David, a boilermaker and Hayden, a builder, helped with the renovations and, in September 2023, Floating Brew opened for business.

“We have never worked in hospitality before, so this is a big learning curve for the two of us,” Todd said.

They opened at Aces because the business is owned by Elle’s parents and uncle and they can cater to the parents who take their children there for morning sport.

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Word is also spreading among the nearby community and, as O’Briens Rd is a popular area for people out walking, Floating Brew has become a welcome stop.

Elle and Todd are still working at their day jobs – Todd is an electrician and Elle is a veterinarian – but their overall workload increased markedly when their son Hudson was born in November.

But the young parents are determined to make a go of the business and have plenty of plans percolating for expansion down the track.

Floating Brew serves Seven Miles coffee and a selection of “healthy-ish” treats such as acai bowls, banana bread, cookies, milkshakes, smoothies, Pure Pop iceblocks made from fruit juices and frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate, which Elle and Todd discovered while on the road at Mission Beach, Far North Queensland.

Floating Brew is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7 – 10 am at 5 – 7 O’Briens Rd, Figtree (Aces Tennis). Find Floating Brew on Facebook and Instagram.

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