Ethos café gets its name from what the owners are trying to achieve. Underlying the ordinary café atmosphere is an ethos, a wish to help people who aren't as fortunate as others.
It's this that keeps me coming back again and again. On Brunswick Street, in the heart of a blatantly consumerist culture, Ethos is trying to do something a little different. Somehow, this seeps into everything about the place. The staff are a little more at ease than their fellows on this street.
Okay, to the important stuff: coffee. The coffee here is good and a fair bit better than the current average on Brunswick Street. The staff work quickly and within five minutes of sitting down you can expect to have a steaming cup in front of you.
The atmosphere is also worth noting. Something about the layout of the café means that even when it's jam-packed you can still be assured of a quiet nook to read in. It means that stopping in at any time you're assured of being able to sit back and relax, something far from guaranteed in this area.
The food is also good. Not excellent, but definitely not bad. A recent change in chefs has mixed things up a bit.
What I like most about Ethos is the fact that it's helping, and it's doing it quietly. Despite the outspoken declaration in its name, Ethos is fairly quiet about what it does. There's a blurb in the menu, yes, but the staff don't make it a point to set out how you're helping. When you pay, an unassuming little can allows you to make your own donation to a worthy cause – $5 to buy a survival pack for people sleeping on the streets, but no pressure. It's charity without preaching.