From retraining ex-offenders to feeding the homeless and giving vulnerable youngsters a new direction in life, these London establishments are all places where you really can have your cake and eat it.
215 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 0LH
Run by two best friends from Hackney, Ali + Cemal (both who hail from Kurdistan originally) this cafe celebrates Middle Eastern cuisine with influences from Tel Aviv's street food, Syria and Palestine, all with a East London touch. They donate 20% of their profits to Warchild UK as well as selling books for £5 all of which goes into the WarChild UK Charity Box.
What to order: The Damascus breakfast sounds epic, consisting of braised chickpeas and homemade hummus on top of pitta, merguez sausage from Meat N16, fried organic eggs, olives, fattoush salad with medjoul date.
139 Tooley St, London SE1 2HZ
This London Bridge spot helps vulnerable adults in London who have been at risk of, or experienced homelessness, into work in the hospitality sector. People who've been through the programme, working alongside a permanent team of professional chefs, have ended up working for places as diverse as The Savoy or Brasserie Blanc. Open all day from breakfast through to dinner, weekend brunch and Sunday lunch, the menus here focus on British ingredients with dishes chosen to "give our apprentices perfectly rounded training".
What to order: Homemade aged beef dripping focaccia and whipped yeasted butter on the winter a-la-carte sounds pretty good as do the Dartmoor lamb chops, pomegranate, labneh & chimichurri.
64 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT
We all know about Crisis at Christmas, but for the past 15 years the homeless charity has also been running this East London cafe where they offer practical hospitality and catering training to their members "whist serving fresh and socially conscious food and coffee". Their own-brand coffee is an ethically sourced one created in conjunction with Volcano Coffee Works.
What to order: the breakfast avo on toast with chilli dukka is always a crowdpleaser, and there's usually a frittata and soup on offer at lunchtimes worth trying.
42 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 5JL
Spitalfields is where you'll find this vegan café whose socially responsible remit extends to providing hot meals for the local homeless and an events space for everything from superclubs that tackle food waste to happiness-promoting projects. In their words, they're "a vision for the future, where hope and humanity are prioritised over profits."
What to order: There's all manner of good vegan dishes on the menu here from Spicy BBQ jackfruit burgers served with Holy F**k Mayo or maybe tofu scramble on Dusty Knuckle sourdough but we reckon their amazing vegan cakes are the must-try.
Borough, Canary Wharf, Clapham, Goodge Street, Stratford, London Bridge & more
Spotting a shortage in the job market for skilled baristas and wanting to do something about homelessness was the premise behind Change Please. They train up homeless people to be baristas, paying the London Living Wage and support them with housing, bank accounts and mental wellbeing.
What to order: Some of their cafes have snacks and cakes, but at the vans it's all about the coffee which comes from Costa Rica, East Africa and Sumatra.
HMP Brixton, Jebb Ave, London SW2 5XF
Go behind bars at HMP Brixton where all the dishes at The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton are cooked and served by the prisoners working towards gaining their City & Guilds NVQs in Food & Beverage Service, Professional Cookery and Food Hygiene. The restaurant itself is situated in the old governor’s house dating back to 1819. The only thing you won't be able to do is 'gram your meal here - all mobile phones are prohibited.
What to order: Dinner here is a steal - amuse-bouche, three courses with coffee and petit fours for just £39.95. It's an impressive menu including crab beignets, shellfish bisque and saffron rouille and a blood orange and stem ginger pudding with cardamom ice-cream. This is also good for booze-avoiders as it's a dry restaurant, but the mocktails are inventive.
Abbot St, Dalston, London E8 3DP
Popular Dalston bakery Dusty Knuckle was co-founded by Max Tobias, combining work with young people caught up in youth violence with a burgeoning love of breadmaking. Joining forces with Rebecca Oliver and Daisy Terry, the trio's intention is to help young people who have struggled to find meaningful employment. To that end, they offer work experience and run education classes in food and baking in schools and youth clubs.
What to order: Obviously the bread (particularly the potato sourdough) is amazing, but what's particularly popular here are the weekend brunches with top drawer bacon sarnies and Brioche french toast with honey, ricotta and quince a big attraction.
Stoke Newington and Camden
This social enterprise bakery and cafe got a huge publicity boost when the Duchess of Sussex pitched up to the group's second opening in Camden last year. They offer skills training, paid employment and a supportive community to help women thrive. More than sixty women have passed through their programme since they first opened.
What to order: the vegan cookies (sea salt & dark choc chip) are super and they also do beautiful celebration cakes to order from £45.
54 Peckham Rye, Peckham, London SE15 4JR
This Peckham-based coffee roasters and cafe trains and employs homeless people in the cafe, roastery and in the delivery process. They say "every bag of coffee you buy goes some way to ending homelessness here in the UK."
What to order: apart from the coffee, head here on Fridays & Saturdays where they serve up great-looking cinnamon rolls and more from roaming baker Breaking Breadhead.
Bethnal Green and St John's Wood
There's a two-pronged approach to doing good at this East London coffee shop. At one level they employ people who have been affected by homelessness, train them up and transition them on to long term employment elsewhere. But they also operate a pay it forward system so the next time you're in ordering a flat white to go you can prepay allowing someone from the street to receive something to eat or drink free of charge.
What to order: Overnight oats and porridge with banana to kickstart yours (and someone else's) day.
34 Whitmore Rd, New Era Estate, London N1 5QA
Russell Brand opened this Hoxton community cafe back in 2015, funded by profits from his book, Revolution. The cafe employs people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse and they're open for breakfast, lunch and brunch. Everything from the coffee by Redemption Roasters to the soap in the loo by The Soap Co has been chosen because of its ethical practices and environmental impact.
What to order: The BLT here comes with homemade aioli and there's also a very decent vegan offering.
10 Orsman Rd, Shoreditch, London N1 5QJ
This canalside spot on the Regent’s Canal was founded by east London charity Shoreditch Trust as a social enterprise. They're all about reducing environmental impacts and supporting the local community. The programme here provides chef training and support for young people who have faced challenging life circumstances - combining professional chef training with practical and emotional support. Even the proceeds from the restaurant contribute to the cost of equipping, training and supporting young chefs.
What to order: definitely the jerk chicken thighs with roasted sweet potatoes on the side. Oh and some Hackney homemade sourdough bread with olive oil and balsamic glaze to mop your plate with.
400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB
Popping up at Selfridges in The Corner Shop (front left hand side of the store on Oxford Street) is sustainable and ethical coffee shop New Ground. The company offers training and work opportunities for ex-offenders in the Thames Valley and will be running for a month, serving a menu of ten coffees along with tea, hot chocolate and breakfast pastries. All the drinks come in recyclable cups which will be turned into the stores iconic shopping bags once visitors are finished with them.
What to order: Try the exclusive Selfridges blend and don't forget to have a go on the huge yellow helter skelter slide. Runs 6 January to 9 February.
Subscribe to hear the latest from Hot Dinners