Next up in our Local Heroes series, where we grow the people, small businesses and neighborhoods that make London beautiful, is Peckham-based Old Spike Roastery, the UK’s first specialty coffee roast to operate. like a social enterprise. In addition to serving great beers, Old Spike Roastery uses a portion of its profits to support the homeless by providing them with training and employment.

A former advertising enthusiast with a decade of industry experience, Richard Robinson founded Old Spike Roastery after being inspired by time living and working in New York City. “I had spent three years drinking amazing coffee and had noticed a growing trend for homemade roasters in the cafes where I lived in Brooklyn,” he says. “When I returned to the UK it took me a few more years to realize the ambition to open a coffee roaster and after talking with a childhood friend (now business partner) we decided to operating it as a social enterprise to help homeless people after a course he was taking at the School of Social Entrepreneurs.

Old Spike Roastery is “first and foremost an amazing specialty coffee”. The team carefully sources seasonal green coffee and works directly with producers to ensure both coffee quality and a good price for the farmers. And then, as Richard says, “our point of difference is that we operate as a social enterprise that trains and employs the homeless with a portion of our profits (65%) that goes back to meeting our social impact goals. We operate out of our roasting and training school (which we share with sister brand Change Please) where interns spend two weeks learning all there is to know about coffee and being trained as a specialist barista. . We then provide a job either in roasting or in one of our cafes. “

The company has been so successful that it had to open a new training and roasting site in 2019 to cope with the growth, and it is looking to open more sites in 2021 to provide opportunities for even more. of people. But it’s not just homelessness that Old Spike Roastery is working to change, they also seek to help save the planet. They already source responsibly, use recyclable or compostable packaging, and make zero-carbon deliveries wherever possible, but they are stepping up with a new environmental sustainability campaign launched. “Our longer term goal is to be carbon neutral,” says Richard. “As part of this trip, partnering with the Eden Reforestation Project to plant a tree for every bag of coffee we sell seemed like something that would secure the future of coffee and the planet!”

For Richard, this is definitely the way to go: “I think organizations are realizing that this is the future of business and that we (as a nation) can effect real social change just by deciding where. spend our money. ” And he also wants to shout out some of the Olympics, saying, “With more and more companies getting involved in this space, I think it’s important that some of the original social enterprises are remembered as leading the way. – without companies like Big Issue and Clarté (which unfortunately ran into problems recently) – I don’t think we would be where we are today. “

By Vinod Gill

Chief Editor and reporter. Major onsite works and development.

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