Goodness Gracious takes a can for a coffee

A young Auckland café lives up to the goodness in its name.

New Zealanders have an obsession with coffee and Aucklanders are the biggest culprits. Spending just under $15 a week on average, few people think twice about the cash they hand over for their early morning brew. But today, one Eden Terrace café asked its customers to exchange cash for cans and do good in the process. 

With a constant string of orders and standing-room only, Goodness Gracious’ modest New North Road establishment was swamped by a growing tower of stacked canned goods. The premise is simple: bring in a can of food and get a coffee in exchange. The cans then get donated to Auckland City Mission food bank.

Busy behind the coffee machine this morning was the café’s brainchild Greg Cornes, who opened the business just over two years ago. “The nature of cafes is that they’re a community-based business," he says. "The nature of a small business like this is that you create your own community and you're centered around your community. So to have awareness on what's going on and to try and do your bit is very important. I think it's nice that people can relate to a business that has a social conscience as well as just being a business. To me, it's a fundamental part of operating a cafe.”

Cornes says the idea originally came from three flatmates who had come up with the idea several years ago. Having successfully pitched it to coffee roasters L’Affare, Locals was launched in Grey Lynn as a pop-up café back in 2013.

Finishing with approximately 360 to 400 cans by the end of the day, all the goods will be given to Auckland City Mission whose struggles to feed the burgeoning homeless have been well documented in recent months. “There was a need for something like this,” says Cornes. “You look around and you see things in the community that aren't quite right. So for the café to give something a bit of prominence is a good position to be in.”

Cornes also revealed the business was expanding, with plans underway to open a second branch of the café in Parnell by the end of the year. “We’re happy to continue trying to do it annually should there be a need and should we be able to…To do it across the two stores would be a pretty cool thing.”