Silo by Joost is a new cafe project by Joost Bakker, the driving force behind a sustainability movement aiming to prove that it is possible to be waste-free, and Melbourne cafe-owner, Danny Colls. Like Greenhouse, the pop-up restaurant that appeared in Southbank for a week during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the project demonstrates some incredible innovations which allow the cafe to operate without generating waste.
Silo is designed to expose diners to the idea of functional design and sustainable operations. The staff are wonderfully enthusiastic about the concept and happy to fill you in on what goes into running the cafe (thanks again for the tour ). All produce is transported to the premises in containers that can be re-used by the suppliers, eliminating packaging waste. The recycling theme is carried throughout the space; kitchenware stored in plastic crates that are also used in a ceiling feature, a dining table made from recycled plastic and sawdust, as well as shiny, 20L stainless steel milk containers for a bit of bling.
By far the most interesting item however, is a lump of brown, crumbly stuff on display above the glass cabinet of scrumptious-looking shortbread, muffins and brownies. This is a sample of the final product from the dehydrator, an integral part of Silo’s operation that converts organic waste into concentrated fertiliser. As we went to have a look at this behemoth, we passed through a small laneway lined with bins from surrounding businesses; a stark reminder about what Joost’s concept is aiming to achieve.
However, visiting Silo isn’t just about seeing all this cool stuff, it’s also about great coffee and interesting food. So we took our seats at the large communal table for breakfast, watching the chefs completing their prep as we waited.
Coffee is supplied by Genovese, sourced from small farms in PNG, Indonesia and Costa Rica. Served in a terracotta cup, my flat white was strong and smooth, courtesy of Schulz organic milk. The Wega Concept Greenline is suitably impressive; an energy efficient unit that garners attention for its transparent casing, which allows you to see through to the internals.
A simple breakfast menu is filled with things that are good for you; muesli (roll your own groats!) and porridge, fresh fruit, house-made yoghurt, baked goodies made from whole-wheat ground in-house and, for something a bit gourmet, coddled hens eggs, cooked at 62degC, served with sauteed mushrooms.
My toast was dense and nutty, with a crunchy, crumbly crust, delicious with soft, spreadable butter.
H went for one of the almond and olive oil muffins, fresh from the oven; crumbly and sweet, with the caramel-y flavour of raw sugar.