CaféSmart united Australia’s coffee community for one day and painted the town yellow in support of homelessness.
On 4 August, there were a lot of smartly dressed people at Single O in Sydney. Some wore three-piece suits, others wore scientist coats, chef whites, suspenders, vests, tech glasses, and buttoned shirts. For the past seven years, the smart dress theme has become Single O’s way of alerting customers to something special going on – and it was. CaféSmart 2017.
“It’s our way of connecting with the community and helping drive awareness to CaféSmart,” says Single O’s Mike Bramant.
CaféSmart is an initiative of StreetSmart Australia to help break down the prejudices about homelessness and works to support people who are homeless or at risk.
CaféSmart participating cafés donated $1 from every coffee sold on the day to support local homeless projects in their local suburbs or town. Coffee roasters also supported the cause through the donation of beans to wholesale customers.
“Homelessness was pretty prevalent in Surry Hills when Single O started its café on Reservoir Street years ago. So when StreetSmart founder Adam Robinson walked in and shared his new idea for CaféSmart, we decided to get involved,” Mike says.
Seven years later, the event is firmly etched in Single O’s diary each year, and it is now a roaster sponsor for CaféSmart too. “It’s a great cause and we’ve got a top bunch of customers and café clients who get amongst it,” Mike says. “This year there was great momentum for CaféSmart. It’s reached the point that if you weren’t involved, you missed out.”
To set the mood, Single O shared a few smart accessories to its café community to get staff excited about the event, and for every pack of coffee bought online on the day, it donated $5.
“For us at Single O, it’s important to support things that we believe in. We have always supported environmental and social issues, such as being a launch pad for The Juggler to reduce milk bottle waste, and initiatives to eliminate paper cups going to landfill,” Mike says. “Supporting CaféSmart is just our way of connecting to a social initiative that’s targeting a very real and evident issue in our community.”
CaféSmart 2016 raised $160,523, breaking its 2015 total of $135,612. The final tally of this year’s donations are yet to be finalised, but StreetSmart CEO and CaféSmart Organiser Adam Robinson says already the figure has passed $190,000.
“CaféSmart was huge this year and that was all down to the passion and commitment of our coffee industry partners rallying behind the cause. With more than 800 cafés and roasters involved, CaféSmart is no longer a StreetSmart event – it is a coffee industry event – bringing people together to support their local communities,” Adam says. “Many participants did additional fundraising and were vocal about taking action against homelessness, which was so good to see. We love where CaféSmart is going.”
One such participant who was vocal about its involvement was Yellow Bernard in Hobart. Owner David Jolly has been part of CaféSmart since 2014. Over that time, David says his loyal customer base has become aware of the cause and its community connection.
“Our customers see us getting behind the cause and we encourage them to match that generosity. In the week leading up to CaféSmart, we did lots of promotion and had a big tip jar on the counter. This year saw our biggest donations yet, with customers happy to contribute $10, $20, and even $50 notes,” David says.
“Without a doubt we were busier than we normally were for a trade day. We could see a significant spike in orders of multiple coffees using the Skip app (this year’s Principal Sponsor). We pushed promotion hard because we wanted to sell coffees and make more money for CaféSmart, but it was really encouraging to see our customer’s generosity.”
David says homelessness is less visible in Hobart compared to bigger cities like Melbourne or Sydney, but stresses it’s of no less importance.
“Tassie is small so it’s harder for homeless organisations to get government funding. With CaféSmart, our customers can see exactly where the money is going in the local area,” David says.
Other big contributors this year included Laneway Specialty Coffee in Parap, On The Go Espresso on the Sunshine Coast, Brick+Mortar Creative in Norwood, Whale Beach Deli in Whale Beach, Le Grove Café in Warwick Farm, Two Locals in Melbourne, Two Chaps Café in Marrickville, Alowishus Delicious in Bundaberg, Five Senses, and Campos Coffee.
Head of Campos Coffee Marketing, Nathan James, says the roaster wanted to support the cause because the initiative embraces the very core of why Campos is in business.
“The guiding philosophy at Campos Coffee is ‘quality coffee cultivated by good’ and this means that through specialty coffee, we want to create more ‘good’ and transform the lives of the people and communities where we operate. Initiatives like CaféSmart help us achieve our mission,” Nathan says.
This year, Campos shared this vision with its café partners and customers, which resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in donations.
“The key to being one of the top fundraising partners this year was reminding cafés of the benefit of being involved and the direct impact they can have on their local community,” Nathan says.
One hundred per cent of funds raised from this year’s event will be distributed to community organisations or small grassroots homeless projects in local areas that support people who are homeless or at risk.
In past years, CaféSmart grants have funded a wide variety of responses to homelessness, including Pets in the Park to run outreach clinics, Coast Shelter to refurbish a shower and laundry, Sherwood Neighbourhood Centre to provide hygiene packs, Hobart City Mission to support homeless young mums, Merri Outreach to provide intensive support for young children, and My Friends’ Place Womens Refuge to build storage for women’s belongings. This year’s grant allocation is yet to be decided, but donors can be sure funds will be carefully distributed to projects in their community.
Without adding this year’s donations, StreetSmart has already raised $4.5 million since commencing in 2003, and funded 1813 community projects at 506 organisations.
“We won’t solve homelessness in one day, but we can all help be part of the solution, and that’s through CaféSmart,” Adam says.
“We also need the government to step up and properly support adequate public housing, provide more affordable options, increase state care for young people beyond 18, and other major policy responses. Homelessness is complex, and it only takes a small change in personal circumstances for someone to be homeless.”
It’s never to late to start thinking about involvement in CaféSmart 2018. For roasters like Single O who are approached with many charities to support each year, selecting one related to the coffee industry is a logical decision.
“Many people will say they’re just too busy to dedicate time to a social project, but the great thing about CaféSmart is how easy it is to be involved,” Mike says. “Last year we saw our donations go to local projects like the Women’s & Girls’ Emergency Centre in Redfern, Milk Crate Theatre, and Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown – all really worthy projects in close proximity to us. It’s important to support the community that supports you because no one should be without a place to call home.”
Why sign up to CaféSmart in 2018?
• Support projects to end homelessness
• Team bonding
• Be part of the biggest café-based fundraiser across the nation
• Bring in potential new customers to familiarise them with your offering – it’s great for marketing your business
• It’s local – donations help people in need in your suburb or region
• It’s meaningful, fun and gets people talking – connecting your customers and staff.
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