CafeSmart is embarking on its 13th year and with the helping hand of a new Principal Sponsor and an industry in recovery, this year’s event is set to be bigger and more relevant than ever.
How do you celebrate CafeSmart week? Do you don bright yellow attire? Pour smiley faces in latte art? Or use the occasion to educate consumers about the importance of supporting Homelessness Week?
The team behind CafeSmart hope it’s ‘all of the above’. The event, taking place from 1 to 7 August, is StreetSmart’s annual coffee industry-led event that unites hundreds of roasters, cafés and coffee lovers around the country to fundraise for their local grassroots homeless charities.
This year, in addition to raising much- needed funds, event organisers hope to see bright canary yellow, limited edition- engraved CafeSmart cups in the hands of consumers to celebrate made by Fressko becoming a Principal Sponsor, along with La Marzocco and Vitasoy.
“Last year we were simply known as a ‘friend of CafeSmart’ and they helped push our brand and our message to raise as much funds as we could. It felt like a really good alignment,” says Hayley Culley, made by Fressko Director of Marketing and Partnerships.
“Kindness has always been a major pillar of the business. Right from the beginning our philosophy has been, ‘Be kind to Mother Earth to others and to yourself’, so we’ve always looked at ways we can give back, whether it’s through small charity donations for schools, or through bigger partnerships as we’ve grown, including the National Breast Cancer Foundation and now CafeSmart, and it just feels right. Being a Melbourne business, going through COVID-19 and seeing homelessness’s rapid rise firsthand is awful. I was a single mum for a number of years, and the growing statistics around homeless females is quite scary. It is something everyone should be more aware of because it can happen to anyone, at any time.
“We need to be mindful that most people haven’t chosen to be in this situation, it’s by circumstance, so anything that we can do now to help prevent that happening to others in the future is super important,” she says.
made by Fressko started in 2014 making tea infuser flasks, then drink bottles. In the last few years, it has adapted to the world of coffee with the release of a reusable coffee cup, designed in Melbourne. In 2023, the manufacturer will distribute its CafeSmart dedicated range (the Smiley Cup) through its own channels and wholesale accounts. $2.50 from each sale will be donated to the charity. It also hopes to ignite some in- person interactions with roasters and cafés throughout CafeSmart week.
Registrations to take part in CafeSmart 2023 are now open. Roasters and café partners are invited to sign up and help spread the word across all Australian states and territories.
From every coffee sold from participating cafés on Friday 4 August, $1 will be donated to CafeSmart. Roasters can help scale the impact of CafeSmart by raising funds per kilogram from the sale of blends. They can even offer wholesale customers one kilogram of complimentary coffee to show their support as a coffee supplier, like Padre Coffee is doing.
“Every dollar invested in StreetSmart creates a 3.8 social return on the community. If on average a coffee is $5, it creates close to $20 in social return. The power of one cup of coffee is huge,” says Cynthia Mac Caddon, Partnerships Manager of StreetSmart Australia.
Last year 650 cafés and around 50 roasters across the country took part in CafeSmart, including long-term supporters and roasters Single O and Five Senses Coffee.
Each CafeSmart participant helped raise a total of $159,000 after what had been a challenging two years for the Australian hospitality community amid lockdown restrictions. Now that the industry is bouncing back, Cynthia has strong hopes for this year’s event.
“I’d love to see close to 1000 cafés participating across the country. The more cafés that are on board and come together, the more powerful this year’s campaign will be,” she says.
“It’s just one week when we can all do something meaningful. I’m confident the coffee industry will back up this great event with more brands wanting to be part of it. Sign up, create awareness, and cover yourself in yellow. Tell your colleagues, go to a café, and talk about CafeSmart, and let’s break some fundraising records.”
This year marks the 13th year of CafeSmart. While the event has been running for over a decade, it needs the industry’s support more than ever before, with more than 122,494 people estimated to be experiencing homelessness, according to Streetsmart. Fifty-eight per cent of those affected are under the age of 35.
“COVID impacted the hospitality industry greatly, but the impact has lingered, it’s only deepened and increased homelessness, and the housing and domestic violence crisis we have here in Australia,” Cynthia says. “There’s economic fallout. The price of food has increased by 9 per cent, petrol by 18 per cent, and rent is through the roof. If it’s stressful for most people, with many looking at their own expenses more than ever before, you can imagine the stress it has on the most vulnerable people in our society at risk of homelessness.”
Another challenge is fundraising and volunteer shortages in charity organisations because demand has increased with more people asking for help.
“Fundraising is hard. That’s why CafeSmart is so important. We can reach so many metro and regional areas with grassroots organisations that know what’s needed in their area: food and pantry supplies to clothing, whitegoods, medication and secure housing. They are the glue that holds the community together,” Cynthia says.
Last year about 96 community grants were issued to 130 frontline organisations on the back of raising $159,000. The projects are largely for preventative homelessness grassroots services and those targeting marginalised communities. These include groups supporting women’s domestic violence, indigenous support projects, disadvantaged youth, migrants and refugees, housing and food security, and mental and physical health or social isolation.
With cafés already generating a community hub and inviting many community members to connect, Cynthia says there’s no better platform to start a conversation around homelessness while waiting for a coffee.
“CafeSmart is an opportunity to give back and do good in your local community by providing a rapid, essential response in a local way where it’s needed most,” she says.
Hayley adds that the campaign is also an opportunity “to do good for the planet” and support Made by Fressko cups in a bid to transition from a throwaway cup society.
“Whether it’s our product or someone else’s reusable product, it would just be a really positive move for sustainability,” she says.
“For this year’s participation in CafeSmart, I love that our brand is going to be seen as a business that gives back to the local community, it’s so important, and we encourage others to do the same.”
Over the past 12 years, CafeSmart has helped raise and distribute close to $2 million across more than 1000 projects tackling homelessness. In August 2023, the Australian coffee community will come together again with a greater purpose in mind.
“It’s about coffee with a conscience,” Cynthia says. “The industry has embraced CafeSmart from the start and together, we are one big family who can make something powerful happen. They are the reason for CafeSmart’s success, and we can’t wait to do it again this year.”
To join the coffee movement and help support those in need, visit streetsmartaustralia.org/cafesmart/
This article appears in the June 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.