I’ve always enjoyed a good, proper coffee and can tell you the best places to go in Norwich. Add a slice of chocolate cake and I’m there.

But I’ve discovered a way to make the coffee taste even better, if that’s possible.  A way of enjoying a hot drink and helping others at the same time, what’s not to like?

This post is not about a particular person, but about the great community cafes in and around Norwich which are mostly staffed by volunteers and where the profits help those in need.  Therefore I think it deserves a mention in this blog.

I first came across a ‘pay it forward’ scheme at The Mitre on Earlham Road.  You can buy drink or food from the menu and then pay extra for someone who is in need. Buying a coffee for a stranger, a meal for a homeless person.

What a great idea!  It’s probably been around for a long while and hopefully happens in every city, but I thought I’d share a few places in Norwich where you can take part and help someone who you’ll probably never even meet.

If you’re not from Norwich and you’re visiting the city, here are a few great places to try.

The Mitre

’A former public house, now truly a public home’. The Mitre on Earlham Road was a pub in decline until it was bought by the St Thomas Church in 2017 and transformed into a community hub.

The cafe serves excellent food and drink (I can assure you) and offers work experience and volunteering opportunities for the community. It operates as a ‘not for profit’ with all profits returned to the STN Trust. The Trust then uses the money for its work in fighting modern slavery and offering a refuge to those in need.

The Sanctuary Coffee Stop

The Sanctuary Coffee Stop on Grove Walk is the partner location to The Mitre and it is also ‘not for profit’ with any profits going to the work of the STN Trust and back into the Norwich community.

This is a great one for families. The wooden pirate ship is a big hit with toddlers and there are many toys and books to enjoy. Midweek, lots of community groups meet here, including a Pilates group (with crèche mums and dads!) and a regular jazz morning on a Saturday.  Nice.

The coffee and pastries are exceptional (it’s OK, I don’t mind trying them to find out)  and the coffee is all responsibly sourced and very important here. Plus they’re very happy to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer.

The Feed

The Feed is a social enterprise providing catering services. All profits go to The Feed Foundation which helps with poverty and homelessness in Norwich.

The Feed Cafe on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich is an ideal location if you commute into or out of the city by train. It has a core staff and then everyone else is a volunteer. The cafe includes a base for the catering business, which provides training and coaching for people who have been at risk of homelessness, had mental health problems, addiction issues or other major barriers to employment.

You can take part in a ‘pay it forward’ scheme here, buy a future drink for anyone in need for them to redeem at any time. You can also do this online and the cafe will put it up on the board for anyone to redeem.

Mousehold Hub Cafe

The Mousehold Hub cafe on Mousehold Avenue is a community cafe near two very busy schools, set up in 2019 in response to a community survey which overwhelmingly requested a cafe in the area.

The food and drinks are very reasonable priced and there is an enclosed play area for toddlers, games to play and a book swap.

The volunteers see this as a place to be yourself, to relax, chat and take a break.  It’s great for families and the menu has a lot of variety. If going out for lunch is a treat that you can’t normally afford, then this is a great place to try.  Future plans include a specific morning for people with dementia and their carers.

KindaKafe

KindaKafe on Castle Meadow is the flagship venue belonging to the Missing Kind Charity.  The cafe offers volunteer opportunities and community support meet up facilities. Their focus is on helping people to combat loneliness and social isolation and offers the potential for free or subsidised room hire for groups tackling this issue.

The menu sells home-cooked veggie and vegan food with an established pay-it-forward scheme for hot drinks and food. In 2019, people donated £3000 worth of food and drinks for others.

This is my ‘and finally’….

Just a brief ending to say that this is not an exhaustive list and there are many other community cafes across the city, all doing a marvellous job!  But if you’re thinking of where to go for a coffee and a snack this weekend,  you could perhaps choose one of these venues and help others in need while you are there.

Images: from the cafe websites.