Three Aucklanders have teamed up with one of New Zealand's biggest coffee roasteries to open a new cafe which allows people to trade cans of food for coffee.

Locals cafe in Ponsonby is a not-for-profit enterprise which donates all the canned food it receives as payment to the Auckland City Mission.

Flatmates Brad Robinson, Oliver Johnston and Joshua Wong came up with the 'Can for a Coffee' concept about six months ago and then approached Caffe L'affare, who agreed to partner with them.

Caffe L'affare provides the coffee beans and staff to run Locals in a warehouse at its Rose Road premises, on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 11am.


"Hand over the can to one of our friendly team and they will ensure you get an exceptional espresso coffee," reads the website.

Wong, who runs a digital agency in Britomart, said the three friends simply loved coffee and wanted to help others in the community.

"We live in the greatest country on earth but there are still needs out there which can be met if we're more conscious about how we allocate our resources both as businesses and individuals," he said.

The friends hope other businesses will themselves with the 'Can for a Coffee' brand.

"We're looking to inspire cafes, roasteries and businesses to take up the movement. So far the response has been pretty overwhelming," Wong said.

He said about 30 businesses had been in touch to find out more about the idea, with two of them - one in Taupo, the other in Melbourne - committed to starting a similar scheme.

Wellington-based Caffe L'affare said the initiative was "a good fit" with its values.

"Community is really important to Caffe L'affare, we are always looking for new ways to support local initiatives," said brand manager Selena Hurndell-Bulled.

"We've always had a strong interest in the local community and that's something we want to foster in Auckland as well as Wellington. I'd like to think there would be many cafes who would be keen to do the same thing."

Wong said he did not know exactly how many cans had been donated so far but it was "roughly two barrels full".

No one can purchase coffee or food from Locals - it must be paid for with a can of food.