The Wise Barista Program, an initiative of the Wise Foundation, first launched at the Telstra Discovery Store in November 2015 with a vision to provide training and employment opportunities for individuals facing barriers to employment. We bring corporate partners and suppliers together to create positive, lasting impact on the lives of vulnerable people, whilst demonstrating the benefits of corporate social impact investment.

The refugee and asylum seeker community is one of the most disadvantaged groups in Australia, with few training and employment opportunities available to new arrivals or those struggling to establish themselves in the Australian workforce. We partner with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Melbourne, and the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC), Sydney, to identify candidates who can benefit most from the Wise Barista Program.

Making excellent coffee – a highly transferable hospitality skill – is at the heart of the Wise Barista program, but we quickly learned that this initiative is much bigger than barista skills. It is a platform for participants to interact with the wider community, to develop their English proficiency and, often most importantly, to build confidence and self-esteem.



We currently operate two Wise Barista sites, National Australia Bank (NAB) joined the program in 2017 with a space in its George Street branch, Sydney, where Wise Barista participants hone their barista skills to delight customers each day. The second Wise Barista site is located at our Head Office on Thistlethwaite Street, South Melbourne, where exiting program participants gain additional experience in food handling, cash handling and other hospitality business protocol.

In September 2019, we launched our 3rd Wise Barista site at Belong headquarters in Docklands, Melbourne. Visit our Wise Barista Program Facebook page to learn more about our partnership with Belong and our first round of barista's currently working in the area. 

Wise Barista participants receive barista training from Toby’s Estate Roasters/St Ali Roasters and work in tandem with Wise Barista staff, gradually expanding their skills, experience and autonomy over six months.

We work closely with the ASRC in Melbourne and the ASC in Sydney to ensure that participants are supported throughout the program and assisted to gain employment after they complete the training. 


The Wise Barista Program empowers participants to build not only hospitality skills, but also hands-on experience in the Australian workforce within an established team environment. This is an opportunity for you and your employees to support new participants to the program – many of whom have never had the opportunity to work in Australia or interact with the wider community – as they adjust to their new challenge. Promoting the Wise Barista Program to your customers is another great way to show your support.

We have been humbled to see our host partners take such pride in the program, and the lasting impact their support and guidance has had on the lives of marginalised individuals. Wise Barista participants graduate the program with a greater sense of confidence, both professionally and personally. To date, 73% of the Wise Barista graduates (and counting!) have gone on to secure meaningful employment.

For more information on the Wise Barista Program or if you are interested in hosting this initiative in your workplace please contact us at [email protected]


Wise Barista Program is proud to be certified social enterprise

Keep up to date with the latest Wise Barista news by following our social media pages 








Wise Foundation Initiatives