I know I sound like I’m standing on a soapbox, but every café owner, restaurateur, self-styled foodie (and possibly every parent and schoolteacher) in Melbourne should check out this environmentally conscious, six-week-old city café. And I’m not just talking about the coffee or the food.
Dutch-born, Melbourne-bred sustainability architect and eco-artist Joost Bakker, in collaboration with café maestro Danny Colls (Liaison, ex Café Racer), has designed Melbourne’s first waste-free café. Recycled materials have been used wherever possible, but with an emphasis on aesthetics. This is not just some hippie grunge joint.
Organic milk is delivered in stainless-steel vats, mineral water arrives in kegs, fresh produce comes direct from farms and markets in reusable strawberry crates and grains and pulses are stacked in glass jars and recyclable sacks.
British-born chef Douglas McMaster (formerly with London’s award-winning nose-to-tail eatery St John) has designed an eco-conscious and enviably wholesome seasonal menu. Flour is milled on site for amazing-smelling bread, oats are rolled, yoghurt is cultured, butter is house-churned and incredible cakes, tarts and muffins sit in a glass display case.
Café manager Trent Heffer (ex The Old Barber Shop) says drinking glasses have been made from recycled bottles and ceramic-glazed earthenware crockery has been designed by Bakker and produced locally.
Recycled paper napkins and food waste is treated in a dehydrator in a rear lane and turned into fertiliser that goes back to the farms.
I think my soapbox should have been a reusable plastic strawberry crate …
Sure, there are impressive espresso machines in cafés all over town, but Silo’s head barista, Lachlan Macfarlane, gets to operate an eco-friendly Wega Concept that’s 46 per cent more energy efficient than anything else in its class and, thanks to modifications by his bosses, has been stripped naked to show its workings behind a clear plastic screen.
The Perth-trained barista worked at Bakker’s acclaimed Greenhouse restaurant for two years and came to Melbourne for its pop-up version during this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. He’s working with a three-bean small-batch blend developed by roaster Genovese that includes shade-grown coffee from sustainable farms in PNG, Panama and Indonesia – it’s a luscious, caramelly blend. And he’s experimenting with a single-origin bean grown in Byron Bay as a pour-over brew and cascara (dried coffee cherry that’s traditionally been a waste product) as a plunger-style drink.
Macfarlane and the Silo team also make their own soy milk – soaking, grinding, filtering and pasteurising it daily. “It has a unique flavour and it steams beautifully,” Macfarlane says.
Silo by Joost
123 Hardware Street, city
Phone \ 9600 0588
Barista \ Lachlan Macfarlane
Coffee \ Genovese
Barista’s choice \ Flat white
Open \ Monday to Saturday 6.30am-3.30pm
The stark interior lines of this galley-style space are industrial in their efficiency but instantly welcoming. Black-plastic strawberry crates line walls, fridges and the ceiling. Walls are whitewashed, there’s a striking communal table topped with recycled plastic, stools are made of stainless-steel tubing and black leather off-cuts, and a massive stainless-steel kitchen bench holds an impressive collection of appliances.