Fighting Youth Homelessness One Latte at a Time

Your daily coffee fix has the power to support the training of disadvantaged youth, fund a non-profit organisation and contribute towards ending homelessness in Australia.

It makes the third cup of coffee in a day feel guiltless with proceeds from brews purchased at The Coffee Cart Changing Lives going directly towards the wages of young people experiencing homelessness.

The social enterprise initiative was established with the mission to break the cycle of Australian youth experiencing homelessness by providing disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to learn work skills.


Co-founder and general manager of the cart, Maeve Thompson said trainees learned tangible barista skills as well as professional development.

“We wanted to provide more long-term training and more experience for the trainees so they could have the confidence to apply for jobs as they know they’ve been practicing for four to six months as opposed to a weekend course,” Ms Thompson said.

Valuable skills beyond coffee making including punctuality, reliability, communication and general work skills are established throughout the time spent training at the cart.

Routines are developed and expectations are set just as they would be in jobs outside of the training environment.

Melbourne is known as a city that loves to drink coffee – cafes and specialty espresso bars are embedded in every suburb – which is why coffee was chosen as the choice of trade for the social enterprise.

Coffee training is a valuable thing in Melbourne and getting a job as a barista is a very steady job once you actually have the skills.
 Image supplied

Ms Thompson remarked that often the cost of coffee training courses was a setback for young people, with many courses only providing training at an “artificial” level and sending newly trained baristas into the industry “with a certificate and little practice.”

Cart supervisor Claudia Brophy-Odgers first volunteered her barista skills in 2017 and has witnessed a range of positive changes with the trainees she’s worked with over the past six months.

Ms Brophy-Odgers noted the high level of enthusiasm from the trainees – “they really grab onto the opportunity” – the sessions provided them a sense of purpose and structure that can otherwise be hard to find.

Trainees really get a boost in confidence and a sense of responsibility.

The Coffee Cart Changing Lives works with young people from Launch Housing’s Post Foyer Flexible program as well as international students from RMIT University.

Wider Melbourne will soon be able to experience the feel-good taste of coffee brewed by trainees with a second cart in the design stages and available to hire for catering events.


For more information visit The Coffee Cart Changing Lives Facebook page – they are currently seeking experienced baristas to volunteer.