Melbourne cafe to ditch takeaway coffees entirely

Left to right: Co-owner Simon Benjamin, head chef Eileen Horsnell, co-owner Daniel Lewis. Image source: @napier_quarter via Instagram.

Fitzroy cafe Napier Quarter plans to get rid of takeaway coffees entirely, and has dropped prices back to $2 for an espresso and $3.50 for a white coffee to encourage diners to sit in.

Owner Daniel Lewis says the decision is in an effort to discourage both waste and haste, saying no one is in too much of a rush to sit down to drink their coffee, as is the custom in many other cities around the world.

“Considering our size, nature and most of all our philosophy, we feel this offering isn’t consistent with who we are or where we ‘sit’ within the industry’s landscape. News that Australians dispose of an estimated 1 billion coffee cups per year (lined up, that’s enough to wrap around the earth twice!) has had a profound impact on the way we view things. More importantly, it has ignited the discussion of how we can change,” Lewis wrote on Napier Quarter's Instagram page.

Comments of support flowed on the post, as followers of the cafe agreed that the “European way” of starting your day is what cafes should aim for.

"Our customers are all locals and they enjoy the ritual and part of their day is sitting down and having a coffee or pastry," Lewis told the Sydney Morning Herald. "There is a conglomerate of people standing around with backpacks, on their phones, and it takes away from the experience. It's turning into a takeaway generation, it's not what we are about."

Lewis told the SMH that takeaway coffee sales make up about 25 per cent of Napier Quarter's morning sales.

Lewis also cited the health concerns of “bacterial cross contamination” in reusbale cups as a reason to ban takeaway altogether, as well as the fact that creating more products for consumers to buy – single use or not – is still detrimental to the environment as a hard plastic or glass cup will ultimately end up in landfill too.

The cafe is just about to celebrate its second birthday, and over its two years has found favour with the local community. Despite the high number of cafes in Melbourne's oldest suburb, this cafe-cum-restaurant is on a residential street corner, away from foot traffic and the main tram routes.

It's also a wine bar in the evenings, and Lewis told SMH that he hopes people will start to to think of their morning coffee the same way they think about their knock off wine. “It's about sitting down and talking to people, you wouldn't put that in a takeaway cup and hop on the tram,” he said.