As we bring the curtain down on another rollercoaster year, it's time to reflect on our journey amid the ongoing challenges and triumphs.
While navigating through the persistent challenges of a rising cost of living, the lingering spectre of COVID-19, and global conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, we've encountered moments of both resilience and difficulty.
In the face of the ever-present pandemic, the challenge of the cost of living, and the disheartening failure of the Voice referendum, this year posed new hurdles that demanded adaptability and fortitude. Despite the return to a semblance of 'COVID normal,' the world grappled with the aftershocks, facing supply chain disruptions, surging inflation, and an ensuing cost of living crisis.
Simultaneously, climate change intensified, unveiling a harsh reality of more frequent and extreme weather events. From devastating floods in Australia to fires, droughts, and escalating temperatures internationally, the signs of a planet in distress were unmistakable.
Amidst the past year's highs, lows, transformations, and trials, one constant remained unwavering - our exceptional community. A heartfelt thank you goes out to each of you for your unyielding support of our social enterprise, people, and initiatives throughout the year. Your contributions go beyond the daily impacts made through coffee and preserves; you play a pivotal role in nurturing robust community bonds during a time marked by division and disconnect. To each of you, thank you for being the foundation of the Corner Store Network.
Now, let's recap!
OUR 2023 HIGHLIGHTS
- Importing 16 tonne of green coffee from Timor-Leste
- Roasting 11.5 tonne coffee
- Turning 6.5 tonne produce into 3947 jars of tasty preserves
- Planting 12,000 trees in Baguia
- Coconut oil and solar dehydrating takes flight in our Timor hubs
- Launch of new website
- Meeting with Obama
- Celebrating our sixth birthday!
- Publishing our first Coffee Transparency Report
- Raising over $250K for initiatives in Australia and Timor-Leste
- Providing 2657 kilos in food relief
11.5 TONNE COFFEE ROASTED
Supporting the livelihoods of smallholder Timor coffee farmers will always be one of our top priorities. In 2023, we imported 16 tonnes of green beans 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 11.5 tonnes of coffee over the year. This included our new coffee, Matanova - we think one of our best yet!
Our team served 22,000 cups of coffee (and tea, hot chocolate, etc) throughout 2023 in our cafe and mobile coffee van.
In line with our commitment to transparent trade, we also published our first-ever coffee Transparency Report that outlines Matanova's origins, purchase price and a breakdown of where the money from each bag is distributed.
6.5 TONNE PRODUCE PRESERVED
Across the year, we received donations of fruit and vegetables in excess of 6.5 tonnes, all of which were turned into 3947 jars of long-life preserves by Felicity and our amazing team of volunteers. Excitingly, we have begun to roll out our new-look labels, which have started to hit pantries across the country.
4 COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
A collaboration with MOCSIS saw us provide 2657 kilos of food relief for locals, including 190 meals, 225 jars of Corner Store preserves, 1977 kilos of fresh produce and 425 kilos of pantry staples.
We also joined forces with EdiGrocer to turn 500kg organic Victorian tomatoes into fresh passata while our Olives to Oil program, in partnership with 3000 Acres and CERES, turned 15 tonnes of olives across Oakleigh, Brunswick and Preston into amazing oil!
Most recently, our first-ever Community Workshop Series went off with a bang! With the help of local chefs and coffee experts from under our own roof, we facilitated workshops teaching Spanish cooking, Moroccan cooking, baking and patisserie plus espresso and latte art. We are already planning a new series for 2024, so watch this space!
12,000 TREES PLANTED
With "climate boiling" affecting communities across the country 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 the WithOneSeed community forestry program in Timor-Leste. This year, we contributed to planting 12,000 trees through coffee sales, with our customers planting a further 1000. 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!
Our two hubs in Timor-Leste have continued their journey, steadily gaining recognition and influence across the country, thanks to the dedication and leadership of Dina, Enny, and Gotys. Under their guidance, the hubs have maintained a strong presence and actively engaged in competitions, secured funding, and participated in speaking engagements, expos, and events, further amplifying their impact.
The team's commitment to sustainability and growth is evident in their increased production of preserved goods, offering a diversified range of products to the local market. They have played a pivotal role in providing consistent employment opportunities, particularly for young Timorese individuals, with a strong focus on empowering women in the workforce.
Innovative initiatives have taken root, such as expanding coconut oil production and implementing solar dehydrating techniques, showcasing a commitment to environmentally friendly practices.
Despite these successes, challenges persist, including securing a steady supply of clean drinking water and addressing power stability issues. Ongoing climate challenges, characterised by lower rainfall, increased temperatures, and harvest quantity and quality fluctuations, have also underscored the resilience needed to navigate these complex environmental conditions.
LOW WASTE CAFE INITIATIVES
We recently installed an Udderway (aka an 18L milk keg) to reduce the need for milk packaging in our cafe. This means all dairy milk consumed in the cafe is single-use, plastic-free! We also encourage customers to BYO bottles and take advantage of our milk refill system. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, and in the six months we've had the system, we were able to save 1500 milk bottles from landfill. We are thrilled to help our customers eliminate one more single-use plastic item from their fridges!
37 EVENTS FUELLED
Our mobile coffee van caffeinated 24 Farmers Markets and 8 City of Monash events plus several environmentally friendly festivals including Queenscliff Music Festival, Vic Health Festival (for a well-nourished Victoria), Melbourne Girls College (pedal-powered cinema), Clayton Festival and Little Food Festival.
Look out for the van next year, every month at:
- West Footscray Slowfood: 2nd Saturday
- Spotswood Slowfood: 4th Saturday
A FEW EXTRAS...
2023 brought a whirlwind of exciting milestones and recognitions for Corner Store.
Alice, an Obama Foundation Leader, had the incredible opportunity to attend President Obama's speaking tour alongside her father and mentor, Andrew. Behind the scenes, she had the chance to brief President Obama on Corner Store's impactful food security initiatives, earning a mention in his speech—an affirmation that our efforts are steering us in the right direction.
We proudly unveiled our brand new website, designed to showcase our impact in Australia and Timor-Leste, enhance transparency about our work, and offer a seamless shopping experience for our valued customers.
Celebrating our sixth birthday was momentous, marking another year of growth and success.
We were honoured in the Clean and Conscious Awards, receiving a gold medal and editor's choice for our preserves and a silver medal for our coffee. Additionally, we were named Monash litter champions, acknowledging our efforts to reduce our waste footprint and promote sustainability.
We welcomed Krista to the team this year as cafe all-rounder, and we bid farewell to Michelle, who has headed up our comms for the past couple of years.
The festive season was extra special, with the return of our Christmas market in December drawing in over 500 people through the doors. Looking ahead to 2024, we're excited to expand our community events at the roastery, featuring trivia nights, life drawing sessions, music events, and more markets.
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 Monday 15th January.
Although it’s been another challenging year, we have so much to look forward to in 2024, and we look forward to seeing more of you in the new year.
Andrew, Alice, Jake, Kathy, Daiki, Felicity, Issy & Krista