28 Sep Well Grounded
Well Grounded is London’s first social enterprise solely focussed on developing talent within the Speciality Coffee industry. We’re on a mission to channel hundreds of the Capital’s youngsters into employment as Speciality Baristas, regardless of their background.
I tasted Monmouth coffee for the first time on a hazy Saturday morning in 2005, having just moved to London as a fresh-faced graduate. It was a beginning, not just for my burgeoning obsession with coffee, but for an idea I’d be thinking about for the next decade – I wanted to connect my love of coffee with my passion for social impact.
I worked in the charity sector until early 2015, building up the confidence and experience to go it alone while studying for a part-time MBA, and last April I left my charity sector job and began work on Well Grounded.
During the first few months we had nothing, just a determination to create opportunities for people who otherwise might not have had a chance to work within an industry that I’d grown to love. Without any funding, we initially relied on a lot of good will and a network of committed supporters – CEOs of charities I’d hunted down, business mentors, social enterprise incubators … anyone that could propel us a little bit further.
Thanks to a serendipitous meeting with Ozone Coffee Roasters (a former colleague at a local youth group introduced us after a chance conversation) I discovered someone who believed in the vision of what we were trying to achieve as much as I did, and together we piloted our first employment programme in May.
Since then, we’ve had a breathless year – we’ve raised over £30,000 in start-up funding from Investec, UBS, Lloyds, Prudential and the National Express Foundation. We’ve gained the support of over 20 coffee industry employers, and worked with local authorities and third sector agencies to train 16 previously unemployed people as Baristas.
There have been plenty of highlights; when Kevin had his first taste of coffee at the brew bar and blurted ‘wow it’s a bit fruity’ and we all couldn’t stop giggling; getting to know the fruit stall personally as I purchased approx 20 bananas a day to combat the new potassium levels hitting their system; witnessing Jennifer cry when she mastered her first latte art rosette and watching her secure her first Barista role; getting Goosebumps when Jake said the programme was the first thing he had done where he felt he had achieved something; taking Danielle out for lunch 8 months on and hearing her tell me about her plans to go back to college to study as a teaching assistant; watching our whole cohort high five after passing their exams. But most of all I feel privileged to have met a group of incredible people as they chat about coffee and life whilst mastering their coffee skills.
Like all pilot schemes, it’s been a huge learning experience, but the foundations we’ve built are strong, and we’re launching our first 10-week traineeship in the Autumn. This traineeship has been made possible due to the support of many, but most importantly Vagabond’s who are hosting us and providing coffee and a space for us to train.
The experience has fostered a belief that the diverse, communal process that leads to the creation of a incredible coffee bean can be continued all the way to the production line, harnessing the potential of young people across our local communities.
Well Grounded matches speciality coffee shops with budding, trained and highly-skilled Baristas. Training is free for young people and cafes, and certified to the highest European Standards (SCAE accredited). We do this by providing on-the-job professional training, alongside mentorship and soft skills development, ensuring that Baristas are equipped with the skills and character that employers require.
Please get in touch:
Are you a coffee employer interested in providing a free work placement for 16-25 year olds, or do you have a suitable employee for one of our SCAE accredited training pathways?
Are you currently unemployed and looking for speciality Barista training yourself.