Silo is Joost Bakker’s creation. Unlike most man-made creations, this cafe has an organic heart of its own, but more about that later. It’s open 6 days a week for breakfast, lunch and awesome coffee. Across the road from the popular Hardware Societe, you could be forgiven for missing Silo.
With one step inside, you find yourself in a dimly lit, function over form fit-out. Complete with communal table in the middle of the kitchen and table water in jam jars, you could be forgiven for expecting that your barista will make your coffee while sitting on his ‘fixie’ and complaining that he needs to upgrade his three month old iPad. Instead you are greeted with the kind of warm welcome and willingness to chat that makes you forget that you’re due back in the office in ten.
By the way, who is Joost? Well, that’s him in the photo. My desktop research has discovered both everything and nothing about the man and his philosophy. Joost, if you’re out there, let’s talk.
1. Great coffee and healthy food with a rustic edge.
2. Sustainable with a capital ‘S’!
3. Great for a chat. You never know who you’ll meet.
PRICE: $3.50 for a long black; $3.50 for salted raw chocolate; lunch $14-20
More details: 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne 3000. http://byjoost.com/silo/
One: Great coffee and food.
My standard order is a long black. Like an espresso, but with the added challenge of getting the length right, there is no milk to hide behind when the beans are old or burnt. The good news is that Silo doesn’t miss a beat; never bitter, burnt or acidic. The coffee is right up there with my other favourites, Patricia and Quists. If only those queueing across the street knew how close they were to greatness!
Whether it be a serve of coddled eggs with sides of kimchi and feta (entirely my choice) or some simple porridge, breakfast is filling. It doesn’t leave you bloated, though. Similarly, the roasted carrot, young leek and tarragon emulsion is a rustic, earthy and tasty affair. Simply wholesome.
The food is so tasty that you can’t help but think there’s more to this story and… You’d be correct. Silo doesn’t just source its produce from local organic suppliers, in the case of Powlett Hill grain, they mill it into flour on site every day.
If you were to look in an environment and sustainability text book, there would likely be a picture of Silo. The energy conscious coffee machine, with its aftermarket and electronics-revealing see-through body, is just the start.
Impossibly, there isn’t a single rubbish bin in the cafe. While staff do their best to minimise waste, Silo’s food waste dehydrator and steriliser turns what little is produced into fertiliser. This is then sent back to farmers to help grow more crops!
Silo also insists that its suppliers use ‘thoughtful environmental practices’ in their own production processes. Despite all of this, a Silo coffee still costs no more than at its popular neighbours, such as Plantation, A Little Bird Told Me and 2Pocket.
As the price of a coffee is predominantly composed of recovery of a cafe’s labour and overheads – beans, water, milk and cups don’t cost much – it follows that it doesn’t appear to be costing Silo any more to be green. Does this mean that Joost’s counterparts are just being lazy?
Three: Great for a chat. You’ll never know who you will meet.
One recent visit exemplifies what separates Silo from from the chaff. While sitting at the communal table, a colleague and I were talking about developments in social media. Seated opposite were two people that ‘couldn’t help but overhear’ our conversation.
Our two person conversation quickly and organically doubled in size. New ideas were exchanged between a twentysomething, a thirtysomething and a couple of baby boomers. With business cards swapped and LinkedIn connections added, the great divide had been crossed seamlessly, using Silo’s communal table as a bridge.
Silo doesn’t offer a decaf option. It’s a shame because a good one is hard to come by and my money would be on them getting it right.
The wait time on ordering and food being served can vary. However, I couldn’t think of a nicer place to be kept waiting!