Imagine that a café was your best friend. What kind of friend would it be? It’s a difficult question, yet one that must be confronted when seeking that special eatery to be your earth-loving culinary companion. On first impression, one café might seem like the funky, drink-triple-shot-espresso and talk underground music type of friend, little do you know they shamelessly endorse caged hens and have never owned a recycling bin in their life. Another may appear the lifelong, deep-and-meaningful type and yet, behind your back this conniving eatery holds a passionate aversion to fairtrade produce and refuses to cater to your vegan needs.
Café fare is a battlefield, which is why we’ve consulted eco app Conscious Consumers to gather our top seven sustainable eats across Auckland. Go forth, tree huggers, and enjoy.
Forget being friends with Kokako. This is marriage material. A bonafide institution known and loved for its incredible organic coffee, vegetarian eats and the sweetest staff any Sunday brunch-goer could hope for, Kokako wins a big gold medal in the shape of my heart for their multiple Sustainable Business Network awards, the $142,200 they spend on fair trade products each year, and the 12,000 kilos of recyclables and organic waste they divert from landfills each year. It bears repeating: marriage material.
A legend, a sustainable beast of mythic proportion; what began as two men’s effort to turn junk food into good food has exploded into the phenomenon we now know as the Food Truck Garage. This clever gang's manifesto is to take "classic 'fast food' that is traditionally high in fat, salt and sugar and [their] own delicious, healthier alternatives using fresh local ingredients". Boasting a fresh seasonal menu made free range and sustainably, these food truckers churn out over 30,000 vegetarian and vegan meals and grill 2,800 kilos of sustainable fish each year. Not bad, for a project that initially began with a rundown Bedford truck on Trade Me.
Everyone’s favourite go-to for sustainably crafted treats; Ripe Deli is a vibrant food lover’s haven with a focus on innovative take-out food that uses recyclable packaging and the very best of local ingredients. Every year they sell a staggering 750,000 vegan and vegetarian meals, divert 18,000 kilos of recyclable and organic waste from landfills and spend around $300,000 with local food and beverage suppliers. Intent on making a real difference, the good folk at Ripe are also committed to giving back to the community through various sponsorships around the area, which is just a bit lovely.
While we’re on the topic of good-hearted cafés in the Auckland vicinity, the ever-so-sweet Crave cannot go without a mention. This not-for-profit eatery is hidden amongst the industrial mediocrity of Morningside but is well worth the hunt. Founded on the belief that fair-traded coffee and a little selflessness makes their neighbourhood a better place to live, Crave happily relents all of their profits with a view to destroying poverty and supporting the local community. From hosting free exhibitions for up-and-coming artists to swapping locals their freshly grown greens for a morning cuppa, Crave is one hell of a good sort.
For those sustainably minded diners dwelling in Kingsland, Mondays is a beautiful vine-covered eatery in your midst. The sustainable brainchild of wholefood legends Hannah Horton and Eleanor Ozich, Mondays features a succinct menu of nourishing meals, raw and vegan sweet treats and fresh drinks that celebrate wholesome ingredients in their most natural state possible. A certified Conscious Consumers eatery, Mondays is dedicated to reducing their impact on our wee planet by significantly reducing landfill waste, avoiding disposable packaging wherever possible and churning out over 6,000 vegetarian and vegan meals each year. Also, it has great lighting if you’re into the aesthetics of the perfect green smoothie ‘gram. Who isn’t?
Blend offers a unique, ahem, blend of bicycles and coffee that brews great caffeine and sells bicycles by cult brand Tokyobike, all at once in a glorious mish mash of sustainable culture. The espresso bar (featuring ethically traded coffee, of course) also sells a small range of sandwiches, cakes and pastries made locally by the likes of Craft Kitchen, where the baking is made with their own hand-milled organic flour. Because commitment. Oh, and it’s also conveniently situated at the back of ultra-hip shared retail space The Shelter, so you can sip espresso while you adoringly stare at the racks of clothes, or chow down on a tasty cabinet morsel and attempt to swallow the guilt of a well-placed splurge. I approve of both.
First opened in 2010, Federal & Wolfe is nothing short of a masterpiece in its tribute to sustainable practice. Their eco-friendly menu features freshly-squeezed juices made to order, fairtrade organic coffee and an extensive list of eats that goes so far as to list the individual farmers names and organic certification numbers of their meat producers. Has anyone seen that at a café before? I mean ever? By this stage, its fairly safe to assume that Federal & Wolfe mean serious business, spending around $80,000 on organic produce each year and nearly double that on fairtrade goods. Stop it you lot. You’re making everyone else look bad.