Iluka Espresso owner, Salina Salter, on her handmade lounger.
We visited Victoria’s newest waterfront spot, Iluka Espresso, and met with owner Salina Salter to give you the foodie update and inside scoop on this beachy venue.
Walking into this spot on the corner of Admirals and Craigflower, you are welcomed with warm pastel colours, beachy plant life, and elegant furniture choices. When we commented on the furniture choices, Salter casually proclaims, “Yeah, I made that,” to which we couldn’t help but retort in surprise, “You made the furniture???” It turns out, yes is the answer to this question. Salter, who moved to Victoria after growing up in Vancouver and spending 10 years abroad in Australia, has always considered herself a creative and turned her furniture design hobby into a business in the midst of the pandemic when she found herself out of work. She started by building her dowel chairs, which spiralled into dining chairs, which then continued until she had quite literally designed and built everything from the tables, down to the serving boards for the food.
Avo Toast on handcrafted custom Iluka board
Salter, who had worked in many cafes in Australia, always dreamt of one day opening her own shop. She put pen to paper and imagined a place that would combine her passion for good coffee and creative design. Not only did she handcraft all the furniture, but she also handmade or designed nearly all of her retail items, including funky earrings and scented candles.
Interior planters, benches, tile tables, and wall art all handcrafted by owner, Salter.
When her business plan got the green light from property owners, she put her creativity to work, and, with lots of help from family and friends, her dream became a reality when she opened her doors on April 1. Salter was looking for a name for her business that signified her love for the ocean, and when she came across the Australian aboriginal word Iluka, meaning “by the sea,” it just clicked.
Interior view of Iluka Espresso overlooking their outdoor patio and Gorge Waterway
After working in coffee shops for nearly 15 years, two things were must-haves for Salter: a La Marzocco espresso machine, and a local coffee roaster/supplier on Vancouver Island. As luck would have it, she was able to source both from Drumroaster Coffee in Cobble Hill where they refurbished a La Marzocco for her in powder white. In addition to Drumroaster, her supplier list includes Canadian companies like Blume superfood blends, and Smoov which supplies her with blue spirulina blend, the feature ingredient in her popular Iced Coconut Blues creation.
Iluka’s Iced Coconut Blues drink and refurbished La Marzocco espresso machine
When she was creating her current menu, she was inspired by the offerings of cafes in Australia, Hawaii, and Los Angeles, and from there, she researched and played with a lot of recipe ideas using trial and error. She even custom crafted her Iluka tea blends by experimenting with local supplier Special Teas in downtown Victoria.
Current beverage menu from Iluka Cafe including custom Iluka tea blends
Iluka’s current food offerings including the often sold-out Iluka bun
If you are heading there for breakfast or brunch, we recommend the beautiful and tasty Mermaid bowl. This superfood blue spirulina smoothie bowl is served in a hollowed coconut shell bowl and will be sure to impress both your tastebuds and Instagram gawkers alike.
Iluka’s mermaid smoothie bowl
Regardless of which menu items you opt for, make sure you save some time to soak up the sun and embrace the tropical vacation vibes on their sunny waterfront patio. In a world where a tropical getaway might not be an option for you right now, Iluka has you covered.
*Iluka Cafe’s waterfront patio *
Address: 100 - 101 Island Highway, Victoria BC Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm; Sunday from 10am to 3pm Instagram: @ilukaespresso
Written for Tasting Victoria by Lauren Gaultier @winethenfood