the history of dôme
What started out as a specialty coffee roasting business in the mid-1980s has been lovingly nurtured into what we see today – a unique community café experience, known to everyone as Dôme.
Three founders – Phil May, Patria Jafferies and Phil Sexton – played a key role in getting the café business off the ground.
Before Dôme was born, Mr May was a triple jump Olympian in the 1970s, while Ms Jafferies and Mr Sexton were co-founders of the Matilda Bay Brewing Company in Australia. It was this small group of people and their passion that laid the early foundations which formed the Dôme brand.
When Phil May made the decision to move on from his sporting career, he bought this really beautiful French antique roaster in Melbourne and shipped it to Perth and started roasting. His business, Western Roast Coffee, started supplying Matilda Bay Brewery, where Patria worked and it was then that they dreamed up the idea of the Dôme coffee concept.
With Phil May cracking the very first roast on his old machine some 30 years ago, the first Dôme café then opened in 1991 in Cottesloe. Fast forward to today and you will find more than 130 Dôme cafés operating in six countries.
olympic athlete to master coffee roaster
The Western Australian Institute of Sport Hall of Champions inductee won six national titles in the triple jump and was a four-time long jump Australian champion in the late 60s and early 70s.
It was the year 1970 when Phil May was awarded a gold medal in the triple jump and silver in the long jump at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. His personal best of 17.02m was awarded during the Mexico Olympic Games.
The early 70s held a turn of events for Phil when he sustained a serious foot injury, resulting in his retirement and setting his sights on a new challenge. It was more than 30 years ago when Phil had the idea that would forever change our lives.
Already a champion athlete, he turned his attention to the humble coffee bean. His vision? To source the best coffee beans from plantations around the world, create a stunning blend and roast it carefully by hand. From the beans he then brought it to our cups in the Dôme café; an endearing place of comfort and familiarity where millions of people from all walks of life have made it their place to dwell, connect, talk, work, learn, relax, laugh, cry, think, play, belong and love.
Teamed with Patria Jafferies, he opened the first Dôme café and continued as part of the family until 2003. Late in 2014 Phil’s story sadly ended, but his legacy will be forever held in the four walls of every Dôme café.
a sense of community built on vision, passion and pride
From old council buildings to retired police stations, Dôme’s commitment to local heritage has occasioned the restoration of many forgotten buildings and brought them into the light once more.
Dôme’s commitment to heritage stems from a passion shared amongst the Dôme family who are part of helping to save these beautiful buildings.
Over the years Dôme has established a close relationship with the WA Heritage Council through taking old buildings, restoring them and making them accessible again to the public. Dôme now occupies 12 Western Australian state heritage-listed buildings with more underway.
Often these heritage buildings can be seen as liabilities and are therefore left for long periods of time without regular maintenance, resulting in insurmountable repairs being required to bring them back to a point of being functional again. In many cases demolition is deemed the only option. But this is where Dôme comes in – giving them a new lease on life and sometimes saving them from the irreversible.
The transformation from abandoned building to a welcoming café can be a long process and along the way, Dôme endeavours to restore and maintain as much of the original building as possible with the team aiming for “faithful restoration work” that keeps the heritage significance intact. With some of the buildings being more than 100 years old, a lot of consideration and respect goes into the restoration process.
Dôme’s commitment to heritage not only involves the restoration of each of the buildings and then opening them up to the public, but it strives to tell the story of each place, making sure the history lives on.
At Dôme Kalamunda you will find an old gun safe from its time as a police station. Dôme Port Hedland’s front room was where surgeries were conducted and the tales of all the mischievous children being afforded the cane would ring true at Dôme Midland. Of several projects in the works, Dôme is excited about the adventure that is the development of Dôme Katanning and the very first Dôme Inn, transforming the only remaining intact flour mill in WA.
Other Dôme Cafes with significant heritage are: Dôme Fremantle (former Bank of NSW), Dôme Albany (the old Albany Primary School buildings), Dôme Claremont (former Claremont Post Office), Dôme Maylands (the Old Peninsula Hotel) and Dôme Leederville (formerly the Leederville Post Office).