By Emily Mathieson
July 28, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Poco

In London, it’s not just the coffee that’s fair trade and ethically roasted. A flurry of eateries are ramping up the feel-good factor with their socially minded operations. At the new Skip Garden Café in King’s Cross, the trend is represented in its no-waste ethos. The food is grown in an on-site garden in recycled containers (the whole structure is built with sustainable materials), it’s sustained with harvested rainwater, and the small menu is designed each day to ensure nothing gets thrown away.

Russell Brand’s political campaigning has extended to the opening of the tiny Trew Era Café on the scruffy New Era estate (on the borders of trendy Hoxton). It’s staffed by recovering drug addicts and promotes local causes with a not-for-profit model. Here, weekly music nights accompany a small and sometimes haphazard menu of homemade cakes and organic vegetarian dishes.

Across the city in Peckham, South London, the new Old Spike Roastery has employed formerly homeless people to serve its fine home-roasted coffee in a modern-rustic café (open weekends only), with exposed brick walls and outdoor benches. As well as supplying coffee to the community, it will also provide training and mental health support for staff, and serve cakes and snacks made locally by other vulnerable populations, including ex-offenders.

And finally, on one of east London’s trendiest food streets, the award-winning Poco restaurant (pictured; from Bristol, the heart of the U.K.’s ethical eating scene), will open a new outpost in August, featuring ingredients from accredited ethical suppliers and fish approved by the Marine Conservation Society on a menu that spans excellent brunches of chorizo and eggs on sourdough by day, and groovy seasonal tapas (salt marsh lamb scrag or biodynamic olives), served with cocktails made from British spirits, by night.

Emily Mathieson is on the U.K. beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in London, you can follow her at @emilymtraveled.