Meeting Billy Halvagis, owner of Bean in the Woods, has definitely been a highlight of my coffee adventures over the years.
There’s a beautiful story behind this Ringwood café, and it does warrant the time to be told. Billy opened Bean in the Woods in honour of his sister, Mersina. Those who are old enough to remember, Mersina Halvagis was murdered over 20 years ago while visiting her grandmother’s grave at Fawkner Cemetery. It was Mersina’s dream to open her own café, after spending all her life watching her parents excel in Melbourne’s restaurant scene. In actual fact, the Halvagis’ have been in the hospitality industry for over 50 years. It’s there where Billy and his siblings learned the art of treating customers like family. Visiting Bean in the Woods was my moment of realisation for the accumulated goodness the Halvagis’ have inherent in their family. Billy, who can best be described as a beautiful human, has turned a nightmare into a dream, and pays tribute to his sister every second of every day, by simply being himself.
You only need to meet him to understand why I was rendered speechless. Those who know me, will know it takes a great deal to move me to the point where I am left with no words; only feelings. Bean in the Woods may not win any design awards, but it’s achieved something most café owners yearn for – it’s won the hearts of locals, and it serves a greater purpose which is intrinsic to its existence. An espresso shot made from a Symmetry coffee roasters blend paired seamlessly with the conversation. You’ll find Bean in the Woods at Ringwood Square, on Maroondah Highway.