Torrens University’s student-run café is serving up coffee with a conscience

Toffee cafe Melbourne at Torrens University

At Melbourne’s Flinders Street campus, Toffee spreads social awareness – and a whole latte love.

When Toffee joined Melbourne’s coffee scene in April 2021, something special was brewing. Flinders Street Campus Director Terese McAleese and Toffee Manager Patricia Artico had pledged to donate 50 cents from every cup to a charity aligned with Torrens University’s social-impact efforts. 

The power of putting people first

“One of the university’s values is to ‘Be Good’ – which means making an impact locally and globally in everything we do,” says Terese. “For us, people come first. That’s the reason we decided to partner with a local charity – to encourage our community to care about those in need.”

The charity? One Voice – a not-for-profit organisation that launched Australia’s first mobile shower truck in Melbourne nine years ago. With a vision to restore hope and dignity across homeless communities, One Voice provides a safe place to wash and shave, as well as hygiene products and a change of clothes.

“According to the City of Melbourne, in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 300 people slept rough in the central city every night,” explains Terese. “In Victoria, for every person sleeping on the street, there are another 21 people experiencing homelessness. It is urgent we help our local community.”

Connecting the world for good

In 2022, student baristas Joseph Que and Veronica Feklistova poured 21,999 coffees. For One Voice – who’ve now supported more than 250,000 vulnerable Australians – that’s $10,310.45 in donations. For Melburnians experiencing homelessness, that’s 2,768 hot showers – and a fresh start.

“We feel so proud of Toffee’s charity result,” says Patricia. “When we opened Toffee, we didn’t know how valuable we would become. Everybody involved bought the idea we created for the business, put their love in and impacted the community.

“All of us – Toffee members, students, university staff and outside customers – are doing our part to connect the world for good. The Torrens University values have been spreading since Toffee opened its doors.”

Using business as a force for good is a hallmark of Certified B Corporations. Toffee’s mission is a shining example of the university’s positive impact – and triple-bottom-line approach.

“Toffee is 100 per cent committed to our B Corp ethos; we balance people, planet and profit,” says Terese. “In helping people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne, we are encouraging the community to change the world for good.”  

With Toffee keeping a growing number of Melburnians caffeinated, the message is being heard well beyond the café’s heritage-listed archways.

“Everybody loves to contribute to this initiative,” says Patricia. “Not only students and staff, but also outside customers – which are increasing day by day. They have one more reason – besides our delicious coffee and food – to trust in our student-run café concept. 

“We always explain Toffee’s role in the university – which is to inspire our people to ‘Be Good’.”

There’s no greater buzz than that.

Learn more about our Social Impact
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.