Redemption Roasters – Coffee with ethics
Innovative coffee specialists Redemption Roasters have just opened their largest coffee shop to date – at the trendy Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, London.
This is more than just a great coffee shop. As well as making the perfect coffee, Redemption Roasters help young offenders successfully reintegrate into society.
The Redemption Roasters team train offenders in professional roasting and barista skills in HM Prison Aylesbury, and then help them secure employment in the company’s network of coffee shops and the wider industry.
The roasting team, led by Head Roaster Marcus, personally oversee every batch and curate the range of coffees. They are backed up by Assistant Roaster Row and a rota of prison education staff to help oversee the workshop. The apprentices are immersed in all elements of the roasting process and their involvement grows with their experience.
Max Dubiel, one of the founders of Redemption Roasters said: “The project at Coal Drops Yard involved the refurbishment of an existing space which was an empty shell. The interior design is in line with our overall brand concept, but also marrying with the venue’s unique features.”
Key design elements include bare brick walls, high ceilings, exposed refurbished wooden beams, exposed concrete and custom designed furniture, with an overall colour palette of light green and grey.
Max Dubiel added: The main challenge of the project was working within a listed building. The contractors did a good job and we are very pleased with the result. Feedback from customers has also been very positive. This is a very important project for us and is our largest cafe to date.”
In April 2017 Redemption Roasters launched a specialty coffee roasting and barista academy at HMYOI Aylesbury.
Max Dubiel said: “At Aylesbury we teach young offenders coffee skills and aim to place them with our wholesale customers or in one of our shops upon release.
“Ex-offenders are 50% less likely to reoffend 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.
“Together we roast specialty coffee in small batches for our wholesale and retail customers, and run a café for the prison community and visitors. On release, we also help our now ex-offenders find work 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.”
Coal Drops Yard was once the marshalling yards of the industrial revolution, and features Victorian brick viaducts which have served as film sets, been home to counter-culture artists, and for a decade, hosted some of London’s biggest rave parties.
Vestiges of the past are everywhere. Remarkably, much of the Victorian industrial architecture has survived.
Until the early 1800s, goods were mainly transported to London by sea and inland waterways. The coming of the railways changed everything – by canal, the journey to London from the north took weeks, by rail, mere hours.
King’s Cross became the hub for goods of all kinds – but the most vital of these was coal.
The drops were long, covered structures built in three storeys. The trains entered under a vast curved roof on the upper level, the coal dropped from bottom-opening wagons through a hole in the middle level where it was sorted and graded before being shovelled into sacks at yard level for transport on by horse and cart.
Today, reimagined, the Coal Drops Yard shopping district is just the latest chapter in the colourful history of the unusual buildings there.