Café Troppo alumnus Maddie Harris specialises in cafes with a conscience. CityMag caught up with her ahead of the opening of her new venture, The Depot Collective Café.
Introducing: The Depot Collective Café
If there’s anything Adelaide’s café culture could do with a little more of, it’s a social conscience.
The Depot Collective Café will open late April. Keep an eye on their website for further details.
Since opening Café Troppo with brother Alex four years ago, Maddie Harris has been developing that point of difference and is now ready to take that knowledge to her next venture, The Depot Collective Café.
The space is a collaboration with the Conservation Council at The Joinery on Franklin Street, and has been an aspiration for the group since they took over the former bus station.
“The Joinery’s been going for at least a year now, but this section they just sort of left and used as storage,” Maddie says.
“They always wanted to have a café, kind of as a way of inviting people in who wouldn’t ordinarily approach these sort of organisations.”
Maddie saw an opportunity not only to extend the influence of her sustainability-focused business model, but to actively contribute to The Joinery itself.
“In my first meetings with the Con Council… I did a bit of research and I was like ‘what you guys do is so good, but I know that I know nothing of what you really do’, it sort of felt like it was… not super accessible,” she says.
“That evoked in me a passion to do a little community café that can showcase what all these organisations do, because a lot of them, they’re not government-funded, they completely rely on donors or some sort of charity or fundraising.”
Among Maddie’s neighbours are the Adelaide Bicycle Workshop, the Adelaide Natural Resource Centre, and the Common Ground Community Garden, which Maddie hopes to be able to draw from as a source of produce in the café’s kitchen.
Extending beyond environmental sustainability, there is hope to incorporate social enterprise into The Depot Collective Café.
“Once we know that we’ve got our coffee down and our food down and our systems in place, then we can… eventually collaborate with Common Ground and get some people doing some workplace training,” Maddie says.
“I do want to engage different groups like that, and organisations, and give people real life training if they want it.”
The café is still a few weeks from opening (we’re told it should be operational by the end of the month), but that hasn’t stopped people wandering over from their offices at The Joinery to see if the coffee machine was running.
“Everyone’s really… keen for the café to open,” Maddie laughs, “obviously for the caffeine aspect, but also just [to have] somewhere nice to meet and talk.”
In the meantime, Maddie and her crew will be laying out the reclaimed furniture and getting a feel for the space in preparation for their eventual launch.
“In terms of the way I’ve kind of designed the café physically, and also the menu, is very much an extension of the last four years at Troppo,” Maddie says.
“One of the exciting things about this opportunity was another chance to kind of apply all of that knowledge that’s sort of accruing over the last four years.
“There’s much cheaper, more efficient ways to run a café if you decide to ignore a lot of aspects to do with the environment and sustainability, and we were passionate not to do that.
“We really stuck to our guns, and so the fact that we’ve been pulling it off was really exciting. I’m keen to do it again,” she says.