Life Eat & Drink Good coffee: Cafes with a conscience

Good coffee: Cafes with a conscience

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Known as the ‘social enterprise’ model, Victorian businesses are leading the way in the trend; a mixture of public support, a strong cafe culture and support from government has made Melbourne the ideal climate for socially-conscious cafes to thrive. But they’re not alone — from cafe to catering company, bar to bakery, check out ten top Australian venues with a conscience.

307 Racecourse Road, Flemington, VIC
Initially funded by government and philanthropic grants, STREAT began as a duo of coffee carts servicing the inner city. Since 2010, 120 homeless and disadvantaged youth have received hospitality training through the business, which has now expanded to include three cafes, a catering company and a coffee roaster.

1905 Coffee on Newcastle
231 Newcastle Street, Northbridge, WA
This multi-tasking cafe — which doubles as a second-hand bookshop — also provides an opportunity for those with mental illness or disability to build the skills and confidence needed to find ongoing jobs. It’s one of the first of it’s kind for Western Australia, and indicative of a feel-good trend that’s spreading to all corners of the country.

Cafe Ink
Corner of Corinna and Furzer Street, Woden, ACT
Another twist on the cafe/bookstore concept, Ink is a community cafe operating through Woden library. Not only does it support individual job seekers, staff are paid above award wages — ultimately reducing reliance on welfare services. Supplied by Fair Trade, local and ethical producers, Ink’s social impact has a global reach.

Suspended Coffee
Various cafes nationally
It’s a simple concept: next time you seek a caffeine fix, buy an extra one. Your pre-paid cup of warmth will be available for the next person in need who walks through the cafe’s door. Based on the Italian tradition of ‘espresso sospeso’, this pay-it-forward concept is still establishing itself in venues around the country, and extends to any staple — whether it be a sandwich or a newspaper.

MadCap Cafe
Various locations in Victoria
MadCap works under the umbrella of community organisation Ermha to assist those with mental illness to participate in the workforce. With around 40 per cent of staff participating in the program, MadCap is making significant changes to employment outcomes in the community — one latte at a time.

673 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC
Residing in the shopfront of charitable trust Donkey Wheel House, Kinfolk is staffed entirely by volunteers — right down to the carpenters, electricians and designers who originally built the cafe using recycled materials. 100 per cent of the cafe’s profits are donated to charity; customers are encouraged to elect which beneficiary the proceeds of their purchase goes to.

Kere Kere
207 City Road, Southbank, VIC
Growing up in Fiji, James Murphy built his cafe based on the traditional custom of ‘kere kere’ — to give something away without any expectation of repayment, if a person in need asks for it. Customers decide where the profits of each purchase go; with past recipients including Habitat for Humanity, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Australian Book Review and Foodbank.

Mu’ooz Restaurant and Catering
197-201 Beaudesert Road, Moorooka, QLD
Established ten years ago to support the training and employment opportunities of refugee women, Mu’ooz is a north-east African restaurant that donates its profits back to the community via the Eritrean Women and Family Support Network. Diners can get a taste of culture and community spirit alongside their feast.

36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne, VIC
Inspired by Africa’s makeshift bar scene, Simon Griffiths and Zanna McComish returned from overseas volunteer work and opened Shebeen — arguably Melbourne’s first bar to pour 100 per cent of its profits back into the developing world. Twice a year the profits are divided up between recipients, according to the share of sales derived from each beverage supplier’s country of origin (for instance, Ethiopian beer sales go toward the Kickstart program in Ethiopia).

Bread and Butter project
Various stockists across NSW
An artisan bakery that raises social capital by supporting programs which employ disadvantaged people — particularly refugees and asylum seekers — Bread and Butter enlist 12 trainees a year and teach them the skills needed to secure sustainable employment. Customers can pick up a loaf at David Jones, farmers markets and spate of Sydney cafes.