American football star touches down in Tweed
IT'S A long way from the fields of National Football League in the US to a cosy cafe at South Tweed Heads.
But former gridiron punter David Lonie has made the switch from elite sportsman to barista with ease, opening the Behind the Grind roastery early last year.
The popular spot is buzzing with coffee drinkers, most of them innocently oblivious to Lonie's incredible back story.
The 36-year-old jokingly shrugs off his status as "a has been".
But, Lonie can't argue with Wikipedia - the font of all knowledge - which states he was a "stand-out punter" at the University of California, Berkeley.
After playing the 2006 season with the Washington Redskins, the Gold Coaster signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2007.
His rise in gridiron was a surprise, given he had only travelled to the US in 1999 to work at a summer camp.
Lonie was forced out with an ankle injury in 2007.
It was then Lonie discovered his coffee ritual in Seattle, with well-known American millionaire venture capitalist, and friend, Nick Hanauer.
"Nick always had this coffee spot he would go to and I wasn't a big coffee drinker back then, but I really liked the speciality coffee he drank," Lonie said.
"It was hard to find, and the cafe had a 'hole in the wall' look about it. That started the mind ticking over what I wanted to replicate here."
Opened early last year, Behind the Grind is in an industrial part of South Tweed.
Being my local coffee run, I've seen Lonie experimenting in caffeine concoctions with barista Petter Havnegjerde.
Havnegjerde gives tastings to punters as though there's no amount of buzz we can't handle.
So far I've tried organic cold brew, cold drip (which takes six hours to brew 750ml), AeroPress coffee from a Breaking Bad-style contraption, pure espresso shots and converted to double-ristretto.
Havnegjerde said making the perfect cup of coffee required the right beans, equipment and heat moving through the machine.
"Every coffee has its potential and every green bean has a point where it tastes the best," he said.
Havnegjerde learned the trade from his brother-in-law who owned two coffee houses and a roastery in Norway, home to the second biggest consumers of coffee per capita in the world, after Finland.
"Instead of roasting coffee off a book, you go by taste and you experimentally find the profile you like," he said.
Lonie said roasting operations at Behind the Grind reflected a trend in micro-roasters, offering signature blends to restaurants and cafes.
"The cafe scene is getting more and more competitive," he said.
"Everyone is trying to do the best they can to create something different, which is lifting the standard."
Hinting at his elite streak, Lonie said the cafe would "take to the next level" with barista schools.
Try it: 27 Rivendell Dr.