Coffee with a conscience: social enterprises in the coffee shop industry

One aspect of my research into the coffee shop industry is the extent to which the industry contributes to the development of ‘community’  – one element of this is exploring the activities of social enterprises in the industry and how they contribute to different communities.

Back in 2016 I wrote a couple of blog posts about the rise of social enterprise cafes in the UK in recent years, highlighting a range of different examples. I need to update the map that featured in the first blog post – I’ll post a new link when that’s completed.

The trend for social enterprises to be an important feature of the coffee shop landscape has continued, and is evident in other areas of the coffee industry too.  There are not only a number of coffee shops and cafes that are designated social enterprises (such as Second Shot or Paper + Cup), but a range of other different coffee businesses too.

One example that stands out is Redemption Roasters: a specialty coffee social enterprise that trains young offenders at Aylesbury Prison (and the world’s only coffee roaster in a prison). The roaster and training centre specialises in teaching coffee skills to young offenders and where possible employing them in their chain of London coffee shops (Lamb’s Conduit and Farringdon) and that have developed as a result. They now even have a Kickstarter campaign to launch their own coffee pod range.

Established in 2015, Old Spike Roastery located in Peckham is a social enterprise that seeks to make an impact on the homeless community providing training, jobs and housing support as part of their activities, other than roasting coffee.

Also established by one of the co-founders of Old Spike Roastery, is Change Please another social enterprise that seeks to address the issue of homelessness. It provides training for people who are homeless and trains them to be baristas. They have a number of coffee carts in locations across London including Borough Market, Canary Wharf, Olympic Park and The Shard as well as a number of office coffee bar locations.

“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, Change Please, Founder

Well Grounded is a Tower Hamlets based community Interest Company establishing in 2016 which operates a specialty coffee training academy that aims to tackle unemployment by training young people to work as professional baristas and open up career opportunities in the coffee industry.

While these are all focused around London, there are examples appearing in other areas of the country too, such as the Café from Crisis in Oxford which seeks to provide training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness (there are other Café from Crisis branches in London and Newcastle.

And it’s not just in the UK where the social enterprise model for coffee shops has emerged. Established in 2015 in California, USA the 1951 coffee company is staffed entirely by refugees, aiming to provide training to refugees and raise awareness of the experience of refugees that arrive in the USA. In Minnesota, USA the Fresh Grounds coffee shop, established in 2004 provides job training programmes for young people who experience challenges to employment (from homelessness to disability).

I’m really interested to find more examples from across the UK and beyond of social enterprises related to the coffee shop industry – if you know of any, do get in touch. It would be great to create a global database of social enterprise coffee shops and coffee roasters.

This entry was posted in Cafe Culture, coffee culture, Coffee industry, Commentaries, community, Roasters, Specialty Coffee and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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