Time Out says
Your morning coffee could be a vital pick-me-up for someone in need
The modest café gives disadvantaged people a leg-up into the hospitality industry through coffee education and barista training. "Australia's first re-useable cup only brew bar social enterprise," as Darct St Project calls themselves, is a social enterprise enabling students to build their confidence, improve their language skills and find long-term work in the cafés of Parramatta. It's also a great place to buy coffee in Parramatta.
“I’d love for Parramatta to become one of the coffee capitals of the world,” says founder John Cafferatta, who set up the project after working as a TAFE teacher for ten years. He helped to create the Sydney Coffee Academy and he ran short barista courses in prisons and with youth at risk in the Hawkesbury.
“When kids or inmates finished the course it was ‘OK, now go find a job’ [and] you can’t learn [those skills] in three hours. Here, they can do work experience serving real customers. If the coffee’s not right we don’t send it out.”
Most of the students at Darcy St Project come through word of mouth, or by referral from community housing providers like Evolve Housing, refugee youth groups and not-for-profit organisations like Auburn Diversity Services. John says he’s trained 300 students since launching the project and “over 90 per cent get jobs.”
One of those graduates is Linh, a 19-year-old migrant from Vietnam. “Linh had very limited English and was doing car washing. He didn’t see a way out of that industry, but he’s now at two cafés and a bakery near his house. His confidence has grown and he’s so much happier.” Then there’s Peter, an 18 year old who is deaf and suffers with depression: “He now wants his own small business, so we just planted a seed.”
As a café, they keep it simple by being a re-useable cup-only brew bar. You can BYO coffee cup, but the venture is strictly no single-use takeaway cups and lids. It's also card payments only. Their main objective – as always – is to train disadvantaged people into employment.
Customers can also contribute to the social enterprise by ‘paying it forward’ to someone who is homeless, disadvantaged or having a bad day. “Anyone can buy an additional coffee for a complete stranger. The idea came from one of our students. It’s just fostering a more caring community.”