2022: Our Year Wrapped

2022: Our Year Wrapped

As always, at year’s end, we wanted to reflect on the year that was and share some of our impacts and highlights amid what continues to be a tumultuous period. 

On one hand, this year marks our collective adaptation to a new ‘covid normal’, the return of travel and fulfilled plans after two years of lockdowns and uncertainty. More importantly, it was the year Australians took a firm stance against further climate inaction, misogyny and lack of accountability by our politicians by voting in a new federal government (and a wave of more progressive independents) for the first time in eight years.

On the other hand, the world was rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which, alongside lingering pandemic recovery efforts, led to global supply and demand issues, skyrocketing inflation and eventually a cost of living crisis. Climate breakdown continued to create more frequent and extreme weather events, with floods decimating parts of Australia’s east coast, including many close to our home in Oakleigh. 

Amongst all the highs, lows, changes and challenges of the year, the one consistent was, as always, our incredible community. We’d like to extend a huge thank you for your continuous support towards our social enterprise, people and initiatives throughout the year. Not only do you help us make impacts every day through coffee and preserves, but you also help us forge strong community ties in this time of division and disconnect - so a million thanks to all of you.

Now let’s recap!

Our 2022 highlights

  • Grand opening of preserving hub in Metinaru
  • Roasting 9.2 tonne coffee
  • Turning 11 tonne produce into tasty preserves
  • Planting 13,733 trees in Baguia
  • Raising $161K for Australian and Timorese initiatives
  • Celebrating our fifth birthday!
  • Two fruitful trips to Timor-Leste 

    six smiling timorese women standing in front of shipping container preserving kitchen

    Launch of Timor Hubs

    Last year, we told you of the beginnings of our flagship hub in Metinaru, just outside of Dili. This year, we’re thrilled to share that there are now two Corner Store Network hubs operational in Timor-Leste. While its official launch was just a few weeks ago, the Metinaru hub has been operating all year as a preserving kitchen, coffee roastery, agricultural garden and training facility. It now employs over 30 people, sells into 25 supermarkets and shops and works with 8 women’s farming groups. 

    An additional hub was set up in Baguia to process produce from the rural area, increasing local food security and employment. It also produces a large quantity of crops to be preserved and sold at the Dili hub. 

    With the official launch of these hubs, we hope to see their work and impact grow significantly over the next 12 months, ensuring that more people than before are able to access increased food security and secure employment through the Corner Store Network Timor-Leste. 

    four timorese women wearing gloves standing around a table stacked high of vanilla beans which they are putting into a tub

    200kg spices imported

    To support the work of Corner Store Network Timor-Leste, we imported 200kg of vanilla, turmeric, black pepper and white pepper. Spices are grown by our coffee farming partners in an effort to diversify their crops and increase livelihoods, before being purchased and preserved by the Timor hubs. From there, we import the high-quality organic spices to sell in the Australian market, making sure a fair price goes back to the producers. You can buy our organic spices from our shop. 

    close up of timorese coffee farmer wearing glasses while harvesting coffee cherries of a flourishing coffee plant

    9.2 tonne coffee roasted

    Supporting the livelihoods of smallholder Timor coffee farmers remains our top priority every year. In 2022, we imported 16 tonne of green bean from Timor-Leste. This coffee was sourced directly from 368 farming families across 12 villages in the Ermera region, with payments going straight to the source to ensure no middle people took a cut. 

    Back in Melbourne, Head Roaster Daiki worked his magic to roast 9.2 tonne of coffee over the year - around 180 kg each week! Another 12 tonne has been ordered and is due to arrive in February so stay tuned early next year for a sneak peak of our new harvest.  

    two women wearing gloves and hairnets as they sort blackberries into containers in a small preserving kitchen

    11 tonne produce preserved

    After two disruptive years, our preserving program got back off the ground again with weekly volunteer sessions resuming in full swing. We received donations of fruit and vegetables in excess of 11 tonne, all of which were turned into longlife preserves by Kathy, Felicity and our amazing team of volunteers. 

    In addition to our regular preserving sessions, we were involved in several community initiatives. A collaboration with EdiGrocer saw us turn 500kg organic Victorian tomatoes into fresh passata while our Olives to Oil program in partnership with 3000 Acres and CERES turned 3.7 tonne olives from the local area into amazing oil that won a bronze medal in the 2022 Royal Adelaide Olive Awards!

    We've received funding for some very exciting preserving projects in 2023, so keep your eyes peeled in the coming months. 

    two timorese tree farmers tagging trees in a forest

    13,733 trees planted

    With the effects of climate breakdown being felt on our own doorstep and in Timor-Leste every day, our commitment to reforestation remains steadfast. As you know, for every kilo of coffee we roast we plant a tree through WithOneSeed community forestry program in Timor-Leste. This year we planted 9,233 trees through coffee sales, with our customers further planting another 4,500. Tree packs start from just $10, so if you’d like to contribute to the total for next year you can buy a pack of trees here

    facade of a grey warehouse building at 30 hamilton street oakleigh

    Our new Oakleigh home

    After five great years, 2022 saw our time at Regent Street come to an end. Our Regent Street HQ is where our Corner Store Network journey started and the place where our community blossomed into the movement you see today. So while it’s always a little sad to close such a huge chapter, we’ve moved on with optimism to Hamilton Street, where so many of you have already popped in for a visit in our few short weeks of operating since our soft launch. 

    The move itself has been a mammoth task, but we’re confident our new home will have all the things you know and love about the Corner Store Network - an ethical and regenerative approach, delicious coffees, moreish toasties and great yarns in an inviting space. It’s also our storefront for ethical merch, locally sourced pantry items, rescued food preserves and some of the best coffee beans Melbourne has to offer. Plus free, unrestricted parking on site - woohoo!

    We look forward to broadening our community impact with even more initiatives in 2023 like farmers markets and a cheeky beer garden and some extra menu items to go with.  

    woman in pink apron pouring water over sliced turmeric in a bucket in timor-leste

    $161K raised for initiatives

    Not only were we registered as an official charity with DGR status this year (which means we can receive tax deductible donations), we were able to raise a whopping $161,000 to increase our impacts in Australia and abroad.

    Over $100K went towards initiatives in Timor-Leste, including our preserving program which fights food waste and food insecurity, tree planting to help restore forests, assistance for coffee farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their harvests and a solar lighting program to provide lighting for families in rural areas.  

    jake mahar and alice mahar holding finalist certificate at premier's sustainability awards 2022

    Big wins for the team

    In September, we were honoured to be a finalist in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards. It was a privilege to be acknowledged as one of 40 businesses leading the way towards a circular, climate resilient and clean Victoria. We are also all proud of Andrew - CEO of xpand Foundation, co-founder of WithOneSeed and father of our very own Alice and Jake - who won the 2022 Sir John Monash Award for Sustainability Leadership.

    On a smaller but no less important scale, we welcomed two permanent new faces to our team this year. Preserving Coordinator Felicity took over management of our preserving program to allow Kathy to (kind of, somewhat) retire, while Barista and Cafe All-Rounder Issy takes charge of the cafe three days a week. It’s been amazing to have them both on board! 

    two baristas in coffee van at melbourne farmers market smiling at customer

    50+ events fuelled

    Our mobile coffee van was back with a vengeance in 2022! Across the year we powered up and caffeinated 51 Melbourne farmers markets, several large scale music festivals like Port Fairy Folk Festival and Queenscliff Music Festival, plus a number of environmental events including Zero Waste Festival, Little Food Festival, Electric Vehicle Festival and Kevin Heinze Grow Spring Festival. 

    Look out for the van next year, every month at:

    • Carlton FM: 1st + 3rd Sunday
    • West Footscray Slowfood: 2nd Saturday
    • Gasworks FM: 3rd Saturday
    • Spotswood Slowfood: 4th Saturday 

      male coffee farmers in timor-leste sorting a pile of red coffee cherries on a brown tarp

      One last thing!

      You may have noticed that our numbers of coffee roasted and distributed are lower than previous years, and this continues to be an effect of the pandemic and cost of living crisis. Whilst we are working hard to increase these numbers and, in turn, increase our impact to coffee farming communities, we are also incredibly proud of standing by our commitment to these communities over the past 3 years and continuing to order and pay above Fairtrade prices, even when it hasn't always been easy to continue to do so.

      So if you know a cafe, a business that supplies coffee to their employees, a fundraising event, or friends and family that drink coffee, we'd be so grateful if you could recommend us, as every bag that we sell allows us to continue our work both in Australia and Timor-Leste, whilst ensuring coffee farming communities have a market and livelihood for their hard work. 

      diverse young adults wearing ethical shirts with cute illustrations in front of colourful wall

      That’s a wrap!

      From everyone here at The Corner Store Network, we wish you a safe and happy new year and summer break. We’ll be back in the cafe on Tuesday 3rd January, with opening hours changing to 9am to 2pm Monday through Saturday for the rest of the month. Online orders will of course be shipped out daily. 

      Although it’s been another challenging year, we have so much to look forward to in 2023. Stay tuned for details of our grand opening celebrations and we look forward to seeing more of you in the new year. 

      Until then!

      Andrew, Alice, Jake, Kathy, Daiki, Michelle, Felicity & Issy