Cafe Sunshine dishes up cafe culture with a social conscience and a Persian twist in Melbourne’s west
Cafe Sunshine recently opened in the western suburb it’s named after to the delight of cafe-culture loving locals. Dishing up a mix of brekky favourites (looking at you, smashed avo) alongside traditional Persian cuisine and importantly, seriously good coffee they also operate as a social enterprise employing and training refugees and asylum seekers.
Owners Hamed and Jen met while volunteering at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (ASRC) where Hamed became the kitchen manager and Jen helped asylum seekers and refugees volunteers to get the certificates needed to get work in the hospitality industry. But with the lack of opportunities available to the volunteers, Hamed and Jen saw a need for a workplace to help them get work experience in Australia. And so the idea of Cafe Sunshine was born and later realised through a grant from Pick My Project.
Nestled within a buzzing street where Sunshine railway station and the town centre meet, Cafe Sunshine is a prime spot for people watching and pondering the sculptures and street art that the big front window looks onto.
Soft pink walls and a flood of natural light give the cafe a light and airy feel while the black ceiling, industrial lamp shades and custom made natural wood tables and benches add a layer of warmth and intimacy to the space.
The place is peppered with all the hallmarks of Melbourne cafe culture: lush green plants draped from open shelving, mismatched vintage chairs and bags of Campos coffee beans and Bonsoy perched on book shelves.
But it’s the menu that really starts to tell the story of Cafe Sunshine. If it’s an eggs your way kinda day, they’ve got you sorted. And the big breakfast has all the components you’d want from your Saturday morning indulgence. But if your taste buds are curious to take a wander amongst Persian flavours, this is where things get interesting.
The Persian omelettes are simple fare; somewhere between a scrambled egg and a omelette mixed with either tomato, sheep’s feta or for a sweet alternative, dates, and served with Afghan bread and fresh herbs.
An absolute must-try is the Persian breakfast. A walnut and Persian sheep feta croquette is served with a basket of fresh Afghan bread and pots of sweet spreads such as carrot jam, sour cherry jam and a silky and sweet tahini dip.
Vegans are taken care of with a smokey tempeh sandwich or tofu, cashew, cheese and tomato sandwich. And I hear the house-made soy and almond milks are delicious too!
If you fancy a change from coffee, try the saffron tea which has a lightly sweet and aromatic taste, or the fresh home made chai. Enjoy with one of the sweet treats from the front counter. The baklava is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and the Persian love cake is a delicious option too.
There’s plenty of grab-n-go options such as an egg and bacon roll with a coffee for just $10. Lunches to eat in or takeaway include fresh servings of cauliflower salad, warm and hearty soups and jars of veggie sticks and hummus that you can eat on the hop.
With a focus on sustainability, Cafe Sunshine doesn’t use takeaway cups. Instead, you get your coffee to go in a jam jar with a fabric wrap that makes it easy to hold. You can drop the jar back into the crate outside the front door when you pass next time or reuse it at home.
Sunshine is known for its melting pot of global cuisines, with Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and Afghan restaurants all within walking distance of each other. Cafe Sunshine’s Persian offerings fits right in.
Cafe Sunshine is the gift that keeps on giving with the cafe transforming into SalamaTea restaurant by night with cocktails, wine and beer accompanying the delicious Persian dishes being served up. Follow them on Instagram to take a look at what’s coming out of the kitchen each day.