Opening on Hardware Street today is Silo by Joost, the new permanent project from passionate eco-entrepreneur and sustainable design champion, Joost Bakker. Bakker is no longer “imagining a world without waste” but is showing us exactly how it’s done.

Arriving in the wake of Bakker’s successful Greenhouse pop-up for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, this latest project sees him teaming up with old friend and seasoned local coffee identity Danny Colls of Liaison, Coffee Darling and Café Racer fame.

Unlike the Greenhouse, Silo is here to stay and looks set to be something of a visionary model for what an ethical, service-driven (and profitable) cafe might look like. Colls and Bakker will be pioneering sustainability practices not seen here before and while Bakker is the man with the philosophy, the vision and the concepts, Colls brings his warmth, hospitality-savvy and strong sense of community to the project.

Joining the team after turns at Greenhouse and a stint at London’s St John is young British chef, Douglas McMaster, who has ably designed a waste-free, seasonal menu in line with the sustainable philosophy of the business.

The space itself eschews the typical boundaries between customer and kitchen (the dining space and kitchen are pretty much one), which not only fosters a natural human connection but also works to demystify the practices behind low-waste, sustainable food preparation. Sitting at the recycled communal table, you’ll get a first hand view of McMaster baking bread, making yoghurt from scratch, churning his own butter and milling whole wheat grain round the clock for the cafe’s bread, pasta and pastries.

Featuring artwork from the late David Band, Silo is fitted-out entirely with recycled and recyclable materials. The space is a noticeably sleeker take on Bakker’s signature raw, industrial aesthetic, with Colls dubbing it “Greenhouse’s hot cousin”. Walls are whitewashed, old black strawberry crates line the ceiling, and reclaimed plywood becomes shelving while seating cleverly utilises leather off-cuts and disused irrigation pipes.

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In a first for Melbourne cafes, there’s not a single rubbish bin in sight. Instead, food scraps and paper napkins take a trip to the on-site food waste dehydrator in the back laneway where they’re transformed into nutritious fertiliser which is in turn delivered back to the farmers who supply them.

The pair have developed strong relationships with a small group of trusted, local producers, all of whom have gladly agreed to come to the party in the name of waste reduction. So while your standard cafe might throw out piles of empty bottles and packaging every night, Silo has none; their fresh produce arrives in returnable, reusable crates, the Schultz organic milk arrives daily in large stainless steel pails and local mineral water arrives on site in recyclable eco-kegs.

Silo demonstrates that sustainability can be fresh and sexy. Here it’s about creativity with a message and thankfully there’s no chance of heavy-handed credo getting in the way of a great cafe experience. Says Colls, “We’ll just do what we do, and if people like it then we hope they’ll be inspired by it.”

Silo by Joost
123 Hardware Street, Melbourne
(03) 9600 0588

Mon to Wed 7am–4pm
Thurs to Sat 7am–11pm (nights beginning next week)