Eight ethical eateries in Melbourne’s CBD

Your morning coffee or dinnertime indulgence can make a difference to those doing it tough. Your buying habits can also support local and organic producers and ethical farming practices. Here’s our pick of the eateries actively supporting worthy causes.

Iki-Jime

The latest from uber chef Shannon Bennett is all about seafood, which is sustainably caught in Australian waters. Iki-Jime is named for the traditional and ethical Japanese method of harvesting fish used by Bennett’s supplier. It both humanely dispatches critters in an instant, and also delivers flesh of better colour and flavour. This happy palace of piscatorial pleasures recently opened in the former Bistro Vue space.

Scallops, mussels and fish on a plate

Iki-Jime

Vue de Monde

At Bennett’s flagship restaurant, Vue de Monde, sustainability was top of mind when it was fitted out with more than 50 innovative technologies. There are generous recycling and composting facilities. Second-hand cutlery beautified with chrome, and pre-loved furniture refreshed with new upholstery. All light fittings use LED. The list goes on, so the world can too.

Calia

A unique restaurant and retail space, Calia is equal parts international star power and local, down-to-earth goodness. The man behind it is Chilean-born chef Francisco Araya, who’s worked at such Michelin-starred restaurants as elBulli and Mugaritz. The food is sustainable and ethically sourced – sometimes from overseas, but mostly from hands-on Australian producers. From Yarra Valley truffles to Tasmanian Wagyu beef, every product and ingredient has a story, revealed by staff and detailed in-store signs.

Chopsticks picking up sushi on a plate

Calia

Higher Ground

Whether it’s for solo coffee, tasty tête-à-têtes or feasts with friends, this innovative three-storey foodie favourite has the perfect space for you. They’ve also found room for 20 Hungry Bin worm farms, home to 100,000 wrigglers turning Higher Ground’s kitchen scraps into fertiliser. Not content with the biggest worm farm in Melbourne’s CBD, they’re also looking to reduce food miles by creating a rooftop garden. So instead of sending that nutrient-rich worm poo to the farm that grows their produce, it will be used on the spot.

Kinfolk

Kinfolk Cafe is managed by volunteers and their profits are redistributed to partner charities. You can choose which project you’d like to support by dropping a coffee bean into your preferred project jar. It’s a special spot for the socially minded foodie and it supports local and organic producers. You can’t lose with Kinfolk.

Good 2 Go

Just as its name implies, Good 2 Go is a coffee shop and social enterprise that supports young people by offering real work experience, skill-building opportunities and support to overcome barriers. Not only does this help young people prepare for the job market, the profits go toward support services for people in the community experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

You can also ‘pay it forward’ at Good 2 Go by purchasing a coffee for someone who isn’t able to afford it.

A blackboard outside a cafe

Good 2 Go

Polēpolē

Pronounced pol-eh-pol-eh, this restaurant/bar is named after a Swahili word meaning ‘go slowly’. It’s a great place to experience African fare, including imported beers and ciders, signature cocktails and food designed for sharing. Through sales of African drinks, Polepole Bar & Kitchen supports two organisations doing life-changing work in Africa: YGAP and Women for Women in Africa.

Quists

Quists Coffee Shop uses beans that contribute to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of coffee production at its origin. You can also also purchase an extra ‘suspended’ coffee for someone doing it tough.

Also worth a visit

Ways and Means Cafe is a feel-good place run by the community. This special space is a social enterprise offering training and employment for new migrants, and also participates in the suspended coffee movement.

Serving specialty coffee and sweet treats on the University of Melbourne Parkville campus, House of Cards Espresso is a socially responsible coffee stand. Place your playing card in the slot according to the good-cause category you want to support: environmental, cultural, social or health. The Housos donate to specific initiatives according to customers’ choices.