Road to Refuge coffee cups are being rolled out across Melbourne cafes for Refugee Week.

To celebrate Refugee Week, more than 30 Melbourne cafes are stocking Road to Refuge stamped coffee cups to encourage customers to reflect on refugees and Australia’s relationship with them. And there’s no better time to catch a someone than when they’re having a quick coffee.

This week almost 40,000 takeaway coffees will walk out of cafes across Melbourne with an image of ten-year-old Layla — an asylum seeker from Tehran and one of the Road to Refuge journey characters — stamped on the cup.

The Road to Refuge web program is an educational and interactive website that allows you to make choices for a fictional asylum seeker along their journey from country of origin to Australia. You can check it out here.

In one of the journeys, Layla faces her family’s terrifying decision of whether to flee home or not and to make a dangerous journey in search of protection. While Layla’s character is fictional, the journey of many asylum seekers in her position is not. For this reason, coffee drinkers are invited to visit the Road to Refuge website and complete the interactive journey of an asylum seeker in their choose-your-own-adventure program.

Meet Layla.

Founder and director of the organisation, Dana Affleck, explained that the initiative provides “a non-invasive way to bring refugees into the hands and minds of regular latte-drinking Melburnians”.

:It allows customers to engage as much or as little as they wish in this conversation, but at the very least, we hope it will plant an important seed,” she said.

Road to Refuge also runs regular events, school workshops in metro and regional areas, adult education initiatives and even have their very own coffee cart (which will make two appearances this weekend!).

Dana busily stamping coffee cups.

Discussing asylum seekers is often believed to be a taboo subject but Road to Refuge aims to take the edge off and bring this important issue into mainstream conversation through its accessible and dynamic approach to community engagement.

“We hope that this coffee cup project will encourage people to think about an issue they may not otherwise engage in,” Affleck said.

“We are proud and excited to be partnering with some of the best cafes in Melbourne to spread the word.

“And what better time to take a moment to consider something different then over a morning coffee fix or lazy afternoon pick-me-up.”

Oof. Time for an afternoon coffee I think!

From Auction Rooms, in North Melbourne, Cru in Kew and Small Block in Brunswick East, you can pick up your Road to Refuge stamped take-away coffee at one of more than 30 cafes listed below. And don’t forget to Insta your cup o’ Joe to go with the hashtags #RoadToRefuge & #RefugeeWeek!

You can follow Road to Refuge on social media through their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook page.

Or you can just head to their website and subscribe to their mailing list.


Northern Suburbs:

Small Victories, Carlton
2Pocket Fairtrade, CBD
Cup of Truth, CBD
Kinfolk, CBD
Streat, CBD
Everyday, Collingwood
Friends of the Earth, Collingwood
Espresso Hub, Docklands
Addict, Fitzroy
Mighty Boy, Fitzroy
Sir Charles, Fitzroy
Dench Bakers, North Fitzroy
Auction Rooms, North Melbourne
Counter, North Melbourne
Twenty & Six Espresso, North Melbourne
Long Street Coffee, Richmond
Assembly, Clifton Hill

Further North:

A Minor Place, Brunswick
Brunswick Food Store, Brunswick
Brunswick Flour Mill, Brunswick
Code Black Coffee, Brunswick
Carolina, Brunswick East
East Elevation, Brunswick East
Milkwood, Brunswick East
Small Block, Brunswick East
Wide Open Road, Brunswick East
Little Deer Tracks, Coburg

North East:

Myrtles Crepes & Coffee, Northcote


Cru, Kew
Haddons, Hawthorn


Kotch Lane, St Kilda


Cobb Lane, Yarraville
So & So, Travancore
Phat Milk, Travancore

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