Coffee With A Conscience: The Cafes Changing London For The Better

By Londonist Last edited 25 months ago
Coffee With A Conscience: The Cafes Changing London For The Better

London is brimming with coffee haunts showing real heart, and harnessing the power of a good brew to tackle issues of homelessness, unemployment and vulnerability. Here’s six reasons why your caffeine craving can help support social entrepreneurship, change lives and better the city we love.

The Hornbeam. Photo from the cafe's website

Starting at the tip of the cafeteria that is London, Edmonton’s Café 311 is one of six social enterprises under The Camden Society, offering fully accredited catering and hospitality training to people with disabilities. It does wholesome, healthy food. Best bit: the affordable prices show a latte love for the local community

Shimmying eastward to Walthamstow, The Hornbeam is the go-to place for vegetarian platters of organic, locally grown and fair-traded (whenever possible) food without the gawp-inducing price tag. Operating under a strict zero waste policy, any leftover food is divvied between the wormery and composting — that way The Hornbeam helps people think about their environment and live more sustainably. Best bit: their midweek veggie box scheme with bundles of ultra-local produce

At Black Sheep Coffee customers have the option to buy discounted drinks and gift them to people in need, by way of a post-it covered 'free coffee board'. Not only does the scheme put a warm cuppa in the palm of a needy hand, it also helps combat the isolation that often comes with sleeping rough. Best bit: doodling well wishes on your post-it knowing that someone who might be struggling can tear it off and redeem at the counter

Photo from Black Sheep Coffee's Instagram

Filtering southeast of the river, Peckham Rye’s Old Spike is a gem of a coffee-roaster. Proceeds from its community conscious caffeine are reinvested to train, employ and house homeless people in the surrounding area. Best bit: you can support their work by buying a bag of speciality coffee online

While you’re in the area, head to the award-winning Café of Good Hope in neighbouring Lewisham. Set up in memory of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen, it’s a hub for charity projects aimed at young people in the area. Between cracking cuppas and oodles of cakes, the café also acts as a CitySafe Haven, opening its doors to any young person who feels they may be in direct danger. Best bit: their weekend brunch. ‘Nuff said

Last but not least are the child-friendly LWS Café and Art Book Shop which reside in Crystal Palace. Born out of the not-for-profit organisation Living Water Satisfies, all proceeds are reinvested into workshops to help empower victims of domestic violence living locally. Best bit: it’s a toss up between their Caribbean curries and weekend brunch menu

As winter starts wrapping itself around London, sidestep the big coffee chains and remember the little places where you can enjoy an extra shot of goodness to go.

By Jessica Jones-Berney

Last Updated 21 October 2015