Redemption Roasters – From behind bars to baristas

Sure, coffee is big business. Corporate coffee is available on nearly every street in London. However, at EspressGo, we like to get together with people who do things a little differently. One of our partners, Redemption Roasters, is certainly doing that. Redemption Roasters believe that everybody deserves a second chance, and they’re practising what they preach. They have built their coffee roastery in Aylesbury Prison, and they train young offenders in the skills necessary to work in the coffee industry.

We love that Redemption Roasters giving people a chance at a fresh start, but most importantly, they make absolutely excellent coffee. Here’s the story of Redemption Roasters, and how they take people from behind bars to coffee bars.

Why Redemption Roasters?

The UK has some of the highest rates of prisoners re-offending in the developed world. 46% of prisoners in England and Wales commit a crime within a year of leaving prison. Because it costs £131,000 to keep a prisoner for a year, re-offending costs the UK Treasury around £4.5 billion every year. That’s a staggering amount of money. People find it extremely hard to find work after leaving prison. Only 36% of prisoners
manage to find a job within 2 years after release from prison. However, if a prisoner can find work during this time, they’re 50% less likely to commit a crime and go back to prison. That’s where Redemption Roasters come in.

‘We want to show the coffee community and the world that a positive commercial environment can be created behind bars, and that exceptional speciality coffee can come from places and people you wouldn’t expect.’

How do they do it?

Redemption Roasters set up their roastery in Aylesbury Prison. While young offenders are in prison, they teach them the necessary skills in coffee roasting and barista work. They learn about all the elements of the roasting process, as well as how to make the perfect coffee in every style. Prisoners are paid for their work, which builds their self-worth. Once the young offenders are fully-trained up, and they’re eventually released from prison, Redemption Roasters help them find work in the coffee industry. Barista work isn’t difficult to come by, so usually, they find jobs straight away. The whole Redemption Roasters process helps the prisoners in so many ways. It gives them a practical skill which they can use once they’re released, it makes them much less likely to re-offend, and it builds prisoners’ self-esteem. Redemption Roasters genuinely changes lives.

‘I wake up and I’m so excited to get to work. I’ve never had a job before. I’ve never felt that
before. I get here and I forget I’m in prison the whole time. The feeling in here is what it
must feel like out of prison when you’re not from bad ends.’

Redemption Roasters have also opened a coffee shop in London, with a significant of their baristas taken from their young offenders programme.

What’s next?

Redemption Roasters are thriving running their business in this way, but they’re not finished yet. Over the next few years, Redemption Roasters hope to increase the size of their roastery at Aylesbury Prison, enabling them to bring more young offenders through the process. They also want to open roasteries at more prisons, and a chain of coffee shops staffed by ex-offenders. Redemption Roasters’ first London coffee shop is well worth a visit. You get to drink excellent, competition-standard coffee, and do your bit to help people who want to help themselves into the bargain.

You can find Redemption Roasters in Bloomsbury, at 84b Lamb’s Conduit St, LondonWC1N 3LR.
Of course, if you’re in a hurry, you can also order your Redemption Roasters coffee on your EspressGo app. Enjoy!