Can you tell us about Redemption Roasters and its history?
In April 2017 we launched a specialty coffee roasting and barista academy at HMYOI Aylesbury. Our brand is called Redemption Roasters. At Aylesbury we run an industrial-scale coffee roastery and teach young offenders coffee skills.
Ex-offenders are 50% less likely to re-offend if they have a job on release. Therefore and as part of our mission to help young offenders successfully reintegrate into society, we train them in professional roasting and competition-level barista skills.
On release, we help our ex-offender graduates find work in our growing network of Redemption shops or by using our coffee industry contacts.
Just as our sourcing of coffee is ethical, we’re showing the whole roasting process can be socially responsible, too.
The result is a finely crafted cup of coffee that raises the bar for everyone.
What is the mission behind this exciting community enterprise?
We want to show the coffee community that exceptional specialty coffee can come from places and people you wouldn’t expect.
Can you take us through your everyday?
Most mornings begin with the inevitable emails and liaising between the roastery inside Aylesbury young offenders and our office in Bloomsbury.
A big part of my day is making sure everyone along our production line is happy! This includes those working in the prisons all the way through to those making the coffee in the shops and cafes.
It's a great job because often times, no two days are the same. One day I might be visiting cafes around London, chatting to staff and tasting delicious coffee, the next I might be elbow deep in a coffee grinder, making sure it's in tip-top shape for use.
There are obviously the dry moments when the inbox is too full and I'm inevitably over caffeinated and sitting still to work behind a desk seems just too hard, but even then there is nothing really to complain about.
Can you tell us the most moving experience that you’ve had through Redemption Roasters?
During my first trip out to the roastery, I was given a tour of the place by one of the guys who we work with. Chatting to him about coffee roasting and the science behind coffee production was one of the most inspiring things that has ever happened to me. A teenager in Aylesbury prison talking to me about coffee with more passion and knowledge than most of the coffee professionals I know really made the value of what we do here feel very apparent.
What is the process behind the making of your coffee?
Our coffee is roasted in Aylesbury Young Offenders Prison by our head roaster Marcus, who works alongside the inmates there.
Once roasted, the coffee is packaged and distributed out to our warehouse from which we deliver it to our cafes and customers. We source only high-grade specialty coffee from coffee farmers around the world.
Being part of the specialty industry and with our social enterprise mindset, we always endeavour to source the most ethical and transparent coffee possible and pay a fair price for it.
Once the coffee has been roasted and distributed we use the coffee for both filter and espresso coffee, with beans sourced specifically for each brew method.
There are an amazing amount of processes that go into the final cup of coffee you drink in one of our cafes and it's always nice knowing that each step has had a huge amount of care and consideration given to it.
What is your favourite Redemption Roasters coffee?
My personal favourite is being officially released at the London Coffee Festival! It's a single origin from Kingha Estate in Uganda, a farm Max and Thomas had the pleasure of visiting when they were in Uganda last October.
The coffee is our first release from Uganda following that trip, and it's an amazingly complex and clean espresso.
Kingsley the farm owner is working very hard to make sure his success on the coffee farm is being reinvested into the local community through education programs for local children.
His ethos closely matches ours and our new partnership is definitely something to look forward to down the line!
What was the last thing you bought?
To be honest, it was a bag of coffee from a different coffee company! Obviously for research purposes only...
What is your life motto?
Everything will be ok in the end, if it's not ok - it's not the end yet.
What’s next for Redemption Roasters?
We are currently expanding our prison education programs.
We currently have four different barista academies in four different prisons, with a few more in the works.
As our wholesale business expands we can keep expanding our education programs as well.
We are also looking to collaborate more with farmers like Kingsley who I mentioned earlier.
What do you think makes a good company?
Good foundational values and employees who embody that company's ethos.
Can you describe your workplace?
My boss calls it casual professionalism. We all work really hard and care a lot about what we do but still keep the office light hearted.
There is a lot of nerdy coffee banter, but it's a great place to work!