Darcy St Project

Restaurants, Cafés Parramatta
 (Photograph: Emma Joyce)
Photograph: Emma Joyce
 (Photograph: Emma Joyce)
Photograph: Emma Joyce
 (Photograph: Emma Joyce)
Photograph: Emma Joyce
 (Photograph: Emma Joyce)
Photograph: Emma Joyce

Your morning coffee could be a vital pick-me-up for someone in need

The modest café, found inside Horwood Place car park, is giving disadvantaged people a leg-up into the hospitality industry through coffee education and barista training.

Darcy St Project is a social enterprise enabling students to build their confidence, improve their language skills and find long-term work in the cafés of Parramatta. 

“I’d love for Parramatta to become one of the coffee capitals of the world,” says founder John Cafferatta, 34, 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 the Darcy St Project come to Cafferatta 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 three years ago 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.”

Darcy St Project wants to further help by offering a ‘business in a box’ – a chance for students to be their own boss. “I’m importing a solar-powered coffee cart from Sweden. It’s carbon neutral, and it’ll be the first in Western Sydney.” 

As a café, they keep it simple by sticking to just coffee (occasionally they have banana bread and muffins too). They also sell Nespresso-compatible coffee pods, run team-building workshops and hire out coffee carts to corporations like Deloitte, Sydney Water, HSBC and ING Direct. And if you want to try your hand at latte art, they offer weekend classes for $60-$80.

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.”

By: Emma Joyce


Venue name: Darcy St Project
Address: 4/71
Horwood Place Carpark Shop
George St
Opening hours: Daily 6am-2pm

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