Good morning! Have you ever take a moment to think about the social impact of your cup of coffee? Well, in this week’s coffee column, I’m going to talk about coffee with a conscience at home.
You may remember that I talked to Rosalie McMillan a couple of weeks ago about the good work Grounds for Health are doing for women in coffee growing communities. They are not alone, either. Coffee Kids are working hard to improve the lives of the children of coffee communities, too, while, Project Waterfall is on a mission to bring them clean water.
It can’t guarantee quality (as I wrote in my column ‘Is Fairtrade Really That Fair?’), but Fairtrade is helping to improve the standard of living of coffee farmers around the world, of which there are some 25 million. Coffee companies can prove their social and environmental impact with marks like Fairtrade, Soil Association Organic and Rainforest Alliance Approval, to allow us to make socially responsible choices with our office coffee.
So it’s very possible to make sure that your office coffee has a positive social impact. But, this got me thinking – How does coffee help to change the lives of those most in need in the UK for the better? I decided to find out…
It’s not just Fairtrade and global NGOs ‘over there’ using coffee to the good. Schemes across the UK are using the booming luxury speciality coffee industry to promote social welfare, and encourage customers to ‘pay if forward.’ Coffee shops have boosted the high street economy by 2-4%, but how are they translating that into social benefits?
Belfast café Common Grounds is a fine example. Voted Belfast’s Fairtrade Café two years in a row, Common Grounds not only combines award-winning fair trade coffee with ethically sourced food, but it’s also a charity working hard to enrich the lives of people both locally and globally.
[Tweet ““As we think globally and act locally, all our lives will be enriched and inspired” Common Grounds”]
They are the only café in the city with a community garden, employ volunteer refuges awaiting asylum and have donated £60,000 to relief and development NGOs such as Habitat for Humanity, Children in Crossfire, Barefeet, Trocaire, Tearfund and Christian Aid in Central and South America, Africa and Asia since 2004. Common Grounds also take part in the Suspended Coffee movement, opening their doors to those down on their luck on Christmas Day.
“We really appreciate our wonderful volunteers who have come here to seek a better way of living.”
Second Shot Coffee is a London coffee-shop that will help to tackle homelessness, ‘one espresso at a time.’ Owner and final year UCL student Julius Ibrahim plans to serve quality coffee with the best of Hoxton and Shoreditch, but the twist is, he’s going to train, employ and support London’s homeless to do it. He’ll give those down on their luck a skill, the chance to earn the London living wage and reintegrate into society in the process.
Widening their social impact even further, Second Shot will operate a ‘pay it forward’ system, where customers can pre-pay for a coffee and place a note on the ‘wall of fame’ for someone in need to claim later on. If they reach their £75,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding target, Second Shot should be opened by Christmas. Want to gives London’s homeless a second shot? Support them here!
Upon further research, I was humbled to find out that Second Shot was not the first of its kind. The Old Spike Roastery is a café, roaster and social enterprise in Peckham also providing expert training, housing and a job for local homeless people. Take Lucy, for example. Originally from Romania, Lucy was homeless and selling the Big Issue on London Bridge before she was approached by Old Spike. Now she can master the perfect flat white!
“Our mission is to provide expert training, housing and a job that will hopefully be a stepping stone to long term employment.”
Make your office coffee about more than a caffeine fix. When choosing your coffee beans, make sure you choose beans with a conscience, and think about the social impact of each sip you take. Pay it forward!
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear about any other schemes like these using coffee to improve the lives of those in need in the UK and abroad. Tweet @Abe_Greener or leave a comment in the section below!