STREAT is the only not-for-profit social enterprise coffee roaster in Australia. Through its roaster, cafes and catering business, it gives hospitality training and support to homeless and at-risk youth.

So far STREAT has provided more than 40,000 hours of training, with more than 450 young people having participated in its programs.

In an industry with a reputation for unethical practices, STREAT’s operations are pleasantly transparent. The team works closely with suppliers to source coffee beans ethically – it buys its beans only from small co-operatives or individual estates, and pays fair prices for specialty coffee. The beans are roasted every day at STREAT’s Flemington roastery on a small-batch vintage Probat roaster, and delivered to doorsteps across Melbourne or sold on Good Spender. “We know all our suppliers and how and where they source their goods. They share our values. It’s about maximum social impact and minimal environmental impact,” says co-founder Rebecca Scott. Its beans have even won awards.

At STREAT’s cafes, young trainees learn to prepare and serve high-quality meals and coffee, and on graduation they receive a Certificate II in Hospitality. Scott and her co-founder Kate Barrelle aim to provide a supportive environment and are clearly committed to providing meaningful opportunities for young people. Both recognise that sometimes, the first few steps have to be small in order to be effective.

Scott has a background in science and communication, and Barrelle is a clinical psychologist who has worked for other social enterprises. In 2006 they discussed starting something close to home. “The approaches to homelessness were not making a dent in the problem – they are still not,” Scott says. “We wanted a model that could be sustainable and have real impact.”

They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign called Home STREAT Home to help fund the fit-out for STREAT’s new headquarters in Collingwood. The space will include a cafe, bakery, coffee roastery, gardens, kitchens, youth training areas, offices and event spaces. It’s an enormous step from its current space in Flemington that will allow STREAT to significantly expand its support to the community and train hundreds more young people.

Since establishing its first coffee cart in 2010, STREAT has grown sevenfold. It’s now served more than 1.5 million cuppas in Melbourne and its customers have filled out 8000 “Pay It Forward” cards, enabling 8000 free coffees and meal vouchers to be given to the homeless.

STREAT-roasted coffee beans can be purchased online through Good Spender, an initiative between Social Traders and Australia Post. Good Spender is an online store connecting consumers directly with social enterprises around Australia. It’s a channel for those who want to spend their dollars thoughtfully, on products that support local social initiatives such as STREAT, Mildura Chocolate Company and Tjanpi Desert Weavers.

This article is presented in partnership with Social Traders and Australia Post.