Changing Suits

Monday, 26 May, 2014

Photography by Zoe Efron

It’s a good thing I developed a coffee addiction before I arrived at the University of Melbourne, or else I wouldn’t have survived. The coffee culture on campus is shockingly large, and since I couldn’t beat them, I joined them. After taste-testing the mochas at most of the cafés, my favourite—without question—came from the wood-panelled, flag-decorated House of Cards. As your average chai-sipping hipster, I was initially drawn to the café for the quality of its beverages. Only later did I learn that the coffee shop has maintained a charitable legacy since its creation, and hopes to improve on it too.

Kere Kere became House of Cards last July when former manager James Murphy handed over management to three new baristas. With the handover came a desire for the new managers to put their ’own stamp’ on the place, resulting in a makeover of the café and the quirky cards motif. This change in theme confused a lot of customers, but the new managers have reassured them that only the outside of the café has changed.

“We wanted people to understand that it was a new business, but we were maintaining a lot of ideas and philosophies that James had implemented originally,” Guy Neil-Baker, one of the three managers, explained.

House of Cards currently donates a monthly total of $500 to four charities. The proportion of that donation corresponds to the percentage of people who place their calling cards into either the social, cultural, health, or environment charity boxes. They also welcome ideas for new charities from everyone. Their website describes their acts of charity as “promot[ing] community wellbeing” and “shar[ing] our’s and our customer’s values”.

Murphy’s legacy also includes employing disadvantaged youth from the St. Kilda Youth Centre after they are trained in barista skills. Working at House of Cards provides a stepping stone, from which the kids can move on to greater employment.

In the near future, the crew at House of Cards aim to upsize their monthly donations without risking the quality of their service or their coffee prices.