Three cups of coffee with leafy art atop
Credit: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

The socially conscious cafe guide

By Rowan Duffy

A guide to some of Glasgow’s best non-profit, community-led, or socially conscious cafes. 

The past few years have seen a global rise in social enterprises as well as non-profit and community-led organisations. These are Rowan Duffy’s top five socially conscious or community-led cafes in our own beloved city:

  1. MILK Cafe, Victoria Road

MILK Cafe is a non-profit enterprise providing a warm and welcoming environment for refugee and migrant women living in Glasgow. Their aim is to provide a safe space in which people can enjoy delicious food and drinks at affordable prices, as well as running a number of inclusive workshops furthering community integration. The folks at MILK encourage anyone to volunteer, giving people a chance to learn new skills, build confidence and gain support in a comfortable environment.

  1. The Glad Cafe, Pollokshaws Road

One of the most popular eateries in the city’s Southside is The Glad Cafe, a cultural hub serving up a range of nectarous craft beers, high-quality coffee, delightful baked goods, live music and smiles all round. The cafe is a not-for-profit venue, offering a welcoming atmosphere perpetuating the diverse and creative community within Shawlands, and hosting brunch every Saturday and Sunday with a mostly vegetarian/vegan menu. As the cafe is a CIC (community interest company), they strive to support their sister charities: Glad Rags Thrift Shop, and the Glad Foundation who host affordable music classes for locals.

  1. Social Bite, St Vincent Street

Social Bite is a popular social enterprise cafe chain, with venues also in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. All of the profits go to charity in an effort to end homelessness. Many of their team have fought with homelessness in the past and the cafe has helped them to reform their lives into positive stories. The cafe has a scheme where customers can purchase food in advance for homeless people to collect later on, making them a major provider of free, freshly-made food in the UK to people in need. Take a break in the calming green surroundings whilst sipping on a freshly roasted fairtrade coffee and tucking into a tasty sandwich or hearty stew, doing both your health and consciousness some good.

  1. Locavore, Victoria Road

Locavore is a social enterprise which helps to support a network of small local producers in order to sustain and benefit the local economy and the environment. Their aim is to provide locally sourced meals and products, and to reduce food miles and industrialised processing. The Govanhill cafe is entirely organic (the only cafe in Glasgow to boast this aspect), and all scran is freshly made with seasonal ingredients and  waste prevention in mind. Enthusiastic about food waste management, Locavore employs permaculture ethics, so any unused food is recycled as compost, or offered to customers, staff or those in need. The enterprise has 2 other shops based in Partick and Garnethill.

5. Soulfood Sisters, The Gallowgate  

Another joyful not-for-profit organisation is Soulfood Sisters, a vibrant collective of migrant women based in the East End, creating ethically made food whilst celebrating diversity and culture. The cafe is open Thursday to Saturday, and located in the Barras Market. It aims to bring the refugee and migrant community together with honest, good food. Their menu is intercontinental, taking inspiration from the various backgrounds of the Sisters. The female-led team are passionate about empowering migrant women in the local community, providing skills and encouragement in order for them to develop their self-esteem and to start their own ventures. The cafe supports other co-ops and uses locally sourced ingredients where possible.


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