This new Bellarine Peninsula coffee roastery is supporting locals living with mental illness

This new Bellarine Peninsula coffee roastery is supporting locals living with mental illness

Coffee with a conscience.

A social enterprise serving up freshly roasted specialty coffee is set to make waves in the Bellarine’s growing coffee scene.

Bellarine Coffee Roasters is by Clifton Springs’ Dr Chris Groot and Darren Cullinane, two friends who have taken their passion for supporting people with severe and complex mental health problems and reducing the stigma and discrimination around mental illness, and matched this with their love of a caffeinated drop.

The key takeaways

  • Bellarine Coffee Roasters are a for-purpose coffee roastery.
  • Their initiative, The WHOLE Bean Project, will support people living with complex mental health issues by providing employment, fighting stigma, and supporting research and local mental health initiatives
  • They are currently crowdfunding to kickstart this important work by selling their delicious coffee

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Nestled on Victoria’s beautiful Bellarine Peninsula and in addition to roasting fresh and delicious specialty coffee, Bellarine Coffee Roasters is kicking off their journey with their initiative, ‘The WHOLE Bean Project’, which will support people living with severe and complex mental health issues by providing employment, fighting stigma, and supporting research and local mental health initiatives.

Aiming to address the critical problem of unemployment for those with mental illness, the dream team of Chris and Darren are using their extensive experience in stigma and discrimination to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives.

“We’re hoping to make very real and meaningful impact in the lives of people who live with severe and complex mental health issues on the Bellarine Peninsula and surrounding areas,” Chris explains.

“The findings from the National Stigma Report Card [finding people who experience complex and severe mental illness are far more likely to experience unemployment and workplace discrimination than the general public] were a rallying cry for us all to better support our communities. We are just so excited to try to do our part by launching Bellarine Coffee Roasters and The WHOLE Bean Project”, Dr Groot said.

Bringing freshly roasted coffee beans to the table, ‘The WHOLE Bean Project’ will support community participation and employment for these communities, providing social contact, financial benefit, more independence, fewer visits to mental health services, and greater wellbeing.

Creating a safe and supportive space in the form of a roastery and espresso bar, Chris and Darren intend to offer employment to those living with these struggles, where they can work free of stigma and discrimination.

Personally, we couldn’t think of two more qualified locals to really see this project through. Chris is the Director of the Mental Illness Stigma Lab in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, as well as the lead researcher on the recently launched National Stigma Report Card, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and SANE Australia. Darren has significant expertise in the public service, and is currently completing a PhD in writing at Deakin University with a focus on internalised homophobia.

To help establish this new roastery where people can visit and witness the coffee roasting process, Chris and Darren are running a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, selling their coffee beans to help make it all a reality.

“We are calling on all Australians, and particularly those living on the Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong and Surf Coast, to support local and support this good cause by pre-ordering coffee beans, supporter merchandise, or by making a donation,” Chris says.

“Every dollar contributed literally creates employment for someone living with mental health problems. The more support we receive, the bigger the positive impact we can make in people’s lives”.

As for the coffee itself, the team are developing exquisite blends and curating unique single origins, as well as working with an internationally renowned, world-leading coffee roaster to ensure they’re delivering quality liquid gold.

Currently you can purchase a classic espresso blend, Brazilian origin, and/pr Columbian origin beans.

It’s good coffee for a good cause.

Visit to learn more and donate to their GoFundMe here.

If you or someone you know needs help or information regarding mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, beyondblue on 1300 224 636 or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263