Five years ago, social worker James Murphy started out with a coffee cart, a social conscience and a mission.
The entrepreneur, who grew up in Fiji, named his Melbourne University-based operation KereKere after the island nation’s custom of giving without expectation and encouraged his customers to select community causes to receive donations from his profits.
The coffee cart is now a purpose-built kiosk with five baristas who serve up to 1000 customers a day and the business donates $1000 a month to an environmental, health, social or cultural cause. KereKere also takes on two
young employees a year through the St Kilda Youth Service and trains them to become baristas.
Assisted by City of Melbourne funding, Murphy opened a second café at the new Boyd Community Hub on City Road. The Hub, established in the former J.H. Boyd High School, also houses the Southbank Library, an artists’ studio, meeting rooms and family services.
Murphy says six-week-old KereKere South has given him an opportunity to spread his message.
“We have priced ourselves in the middle of the market and are not charging extra in order to donate,” says Murphy. “KereKere is a straight business model with a focus on quality.”
The café serves organic, fair-trade coffee from two slick La Marzocco espresso machines, operated by a pair of baristas, and a short menu offering toasted sandwiches, cakes and muffins.
Nathaniel Dobson says his role as head barista for KereKere gives him the rare opportunity to pass on knowledge and skills to young people facing barriers to finding work.
Dobson, who has worked with the organisation for 18 months, has been making coffee since he was 12.
He’s worked in cafés in Adelaide and around Melbourne, including Cubbyhouse Canteen in Armadale and Café Tre Sette in Carlton, and for function companies operating silver-service events. But he has found this job to be one of the most rewarding.
Dobson works at both cafés, training and monitoring staff to ensure the consistency of the house coffee blend. A flat white will be a rich extraction of creamy milk-chocolate, with a deep walnut body and a light citrus finish – and arrive with an oversized playing card beside it. Select a cause by placing your card in a box as you depart.
207 City Road, Southbank
Phone \ None
Barista \ Nathaniel Dobson
Coffee \ Espresso Syndicate
Barista’s choice \ Strong caffe latte
Open \ Monday to Friday 7.30am-5.30pm
Creamy walls, high ceilings and pale-timber floors create a seamless interior in this elegant old building. Timber benches line two walls of the freshly renovated space and low black-legged stools act as miniature tables or seats.
There’s a communal central table that attracts mothers for morning coffee and a high bench-cum-computer workstation for students.
Splashes of colour come from the red cushions that line the benches, the card symbols stamped on the stools and the colourful lunchboxes keeping youngsters at the table.
Outside, prams line up at timber tables under chocolate-brown umbrellas while mums and students gather for coffee.