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How a cup of coffee can help the community

BY Federica Carr

19th Feb 2024 Life

3 min read

How a cup of coffee can help the community
Cups of coffee can change people's lives for the better and here's how different coffee shops and kind beans are helping those in need
 "If we can just get a small proportion of coffee drinkers to simply change where they buy their coffee, we could really change the world.” (Cemal Ezel, Well Grounded CEO and founder). Maybe not the world but certainly people’s lives are changing for the better through the efforts of many social enterprises and charities.
Pick your cause and choose your beans with our suggestions.

Fighting homelessness

OId Spike Roastery
Charity Shelter estimates, as of November 2023, there were over 300,000 rough sleepers in the UK, many of those children. Helping ease these numbers is Peckham-based Old Spike Roastery, the first speciality coffee roastery operating as a social enterprise which has gone from strength to strength, with several coffee shops in central London. The beans’ quality is excellent; they also focus on sustainability, planting one tree for every bag sold via their Eden Reforestation Project partnership.
"Well Grounded offer homeless people the training to get a job in the speciality coffee industry"
Well Grounded, with their partners Change Please offer homeless people the skills, training, mentorship and qualifications they need to get a job in the speciality coffee industry; banish long term unemployment is the mission of Cracked Bean Roastery and cafe, opened in 2021 in the Northeast of England.

Helping those with learning disabilities

Fair Shot Cafe
We love Fair Shot in the middle of Covent Garden: a bright, elegant venue selling light lunches, cakes and, of course, great coffee where the staff are part of the charity’s training project. Each year, they provide 15 young adults (aged 18-25) with a learning disability and/or autism the chance to obtain real-life work experience through a hospitality partnership with “forward-thinking employers”.
"Fair Shot provides young adults with a learning disability the chance to obtain work experience"
Aptly named SEND runs a similar project, training young adults with learning disabilities in all aspects of the industry, from roasting to barista skills. Try their coffee in a couple of London’s independent coffee shops, including Hidden in Camden, or buy their beans on their website (retail and wholesale).
In Brighton, Team Domenica is a charity and a Specialist Further Education College supporting young people with learning disabilities to find employment in their local roastery and coffee shop. Their coffee is also sold online so it’s possible to support their cause from anywhere in the UK.

Rehabilitating offenders

When in 2016 the Ministry of Justice approached coffee entrepreneurs Ted and Max about setting up a roastery in a prison as a way of reducing reoffending rates, Redemption Roasters was born. Today they have a recognisable brand, nine shops and a fully operational roastery within HMP Mount (where they employ up to five prison residents at a time teaching them skills in coffee roasting, production and logistics).
An equally worthy single origin coffee is served at Covent Garden’s Neal Street Espresso: part of Manchester based Message Enterprise Centre (MEC), this central London shop also employs ex-offenders, paying the city’s living wage and providing mentoring as well as training. Proof that the concept works? Nationally 29.0% of men and women re-offend within 12 months but the MEC rate is just 2.0%.
"Reducing the rate of reoffending in Manchester is the aim of established coffee house The Mess"
Reducing the rate of reoffending in Manchester is also the aim of established coffee house The Mess, cafe and catering company, while Bristol based The Key will soon follow suit.
Many other companies have a similar focus: the Clink Charity offers ex-offenders training and employment in the restaurant industry; well-known London bakery The Dusty Knuckle supports “young people who make bad choices”; and Honest Grind helps “vulnerable young people” towards employment.

Supporting refugees

Haven Coffee
With an estimated 103 million displaced people worldwide (UNHCR, 2022), assisting refugees with confidence, practical skills and recruitment is fundamental. In London the Red Cross manages two coffee points through their Leaps and Grounds programme, backed by Caravan Coffee Roasters.
In Walthamstow independent coffee shop Haven was founded by social entrepreneur and refugee Usman Khalid and in North London (Angel) it’s Trampoline leading the way. Outside the capital refugees can find a safe space and learning opportunities with Saints Coffee (Northampton and Milton Keynes).

Recovery from addiction

Sponsoring recovery from drugs and alcohol addiction is at the heart of many charities and social enterprises; using coffee and barista skills to assist young people get onto the career ladder is charity Aquarius through their Evolve coffee shop programme.
If in the Portsmouth area check out Canvas coffee and London’s Shoreditch Paper & Cup cafe is always worth a visit.

Supporting the farmers

It is important to remember the people who grow and harvest the coffee we love, who do not necessarily benefit from fair income.
"Blue Bear Coffee helps in the fight against the plight of modern slavery and human trafficking"
In choosing specialty, sustainable beans customers are already making a positive impact, but go further by purchasing from companies such as The Colombia Coffee Company who directly supports Colombian farming communities and Blue Bear Coffee who fights modern slavery and human trafficking.
Banner photo: Porapak Apichodilok
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