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Kinfolk: A cafe with a mission

Hadi Ismanto

Wed Oct 05 2011

Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

AT Kinfolk, customers get more than just a good cup of coffee. They get to decide which charity gets the profit from their purchase. Hadi Ismanto finds out.

Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne.

AH, it’s another Melbourne morning and you need a caffeine-infused drink to start your day. So you step inside your chosen cafe, head straight for the counter, and you are greeted by the hip and friendly barista and order your favourite latte. You pay for it and wait until your drink is ready.

But at Kinfolk cafe, there’s another important thing you have to do before you complete your coffee-buying routine.

Four jars, each representing a different charity, are eagerly waiting for your nomination. No, they’re not gunning for the most beautifully-shaped jar award. Your nomination will help the cafe decide which charity receives the profit from your coffee.

To nominate, all you have to do is put a coffee bean in the jar of your chosen charity. Welcome to Kinfolk, a social-business cafe run by a few permanent staff and an exciting bunch of high-spirited volunteers.

Started 16 months ago, Kinfolk has already had more than 200 volunteers come through its doors. At any time, the cafe works with four charity partners. The partners are based in different regions. At the moment, they’re in Rwanda, Ghana, Palm Island and Melbourne itself.

Coffee with a conscience. Choose a charity to support while placing your coffee orders.

Dressed in jeans and a tee, Kilfolk manager Jarrod Briffa is a friendly guy with a down-to-earth attitude towards his role in the inspirational cafe.

“We just wanted to set an example of a good way of running a social-business,” the 26 year-old says.

“Maybe other people can learn from us and do it themselves.”

Last September, Kinfolk divided $40,000 between their four selected charities, as voted by their customers. The cafe collected the amount in just five months, which Briffa says is a sign of its success.

Kinfolk fits right into Melbourne’s vintage chic culture – the cafe makes use of recycled and donated equipment and furniture.

But Kinfolk doesn’t just donate to charity, the cafe also provides its young volunteers with the skills they need to get a job in hospitality.

“We train volunteers every day,” Briffa says.

“We work with other non-profit organisations as well, training the homeless, or indigenous or disadvantaged groups. We give the applicants who come here to volunteer proper training so they can get jobs elsewhere in the industry.”

Other than learning how to make coffee from Briffa, most of Kilfolk’s classes are about interacting with people and serving customers that come through the door.

But on weeknights, the volunteers leave their aprons and coffee cups behind and hold stretching and meditation classes in the cafe space.

Summing up Kinfolk in one sentence, Briffa says, “We got great coffee, great food and a really fun team of people. So if there’s anyone who wants to experience that, we’ll make them feel welcome.”

Kinfolk is located at 673 Bourke St and is open Monday to Friday from 7am to 3pm. To find out more or to volunteer, visit the Kinfolk website.

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