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Cafe Stepping Stone Canberra

Strathnairn Arts' on-site vegetarian cafe is dedicated to employing and training female migrants and refugees.
By Dominic Gruenewald
July 02, 2021
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By Dominic Gruenewald
July 02, 2021
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Between 2017 and 2020, Cafe Stepping Stone was considered one of the best cafes in the Colombian city of Cartagena. This was not only thanks to the hearty all-day brekkies and top-notch coffee, but because of its admirable social mission. The cafe's Australian founders opened with the aim to provide training and employment to underpriviliged youth in the city.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, owners Vanessa Brettell and Hannah Costello were forced to return home. They closed the Cartagena cafe, but set up a microfinancing program to continue supporting local entrepreneurs. And in July 2020, the duo reopened Cafe Stepping Stone on home turf within the grounds of Strathnairn Arts.

Here, Cafe Stepping Stone maintains its social enterprise roots by working with Canberra Refugee Support, Ginninderry's SPARK program and other organisations to employ female refugees of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

It also aims to be as sustainable as possible by sourcing locally grown produce for its 100-percent vegetarian menu — it's aiming to source 80-percent of ingredients from with a 450-kilometre radius by 2022. Stop by to feast on something from the ever-changing menu — think pan-fried miso mushrooms on sourdough, green reuben or potato masala toasties and house-made caradomom carrot cake. There is also a delightful selection of coffees, teas, kombucha and fresh juices.

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