Redemption Roasters works with prisoners to produce the coffee it sells in its new Piccadilly shop 

Words: Sophia Charalambous

When wondering where a coffee is roasted the last thing you expect to be told is in prison. But that is exactly the location for Redemption Roasters, after the Ministry of Justice contacted founders Ted Dubiel and Max Rosner to set up this venture as a way of reducing reoffending rates.

The coffee house with a social conscience has just opened their eleventh and latest shop in the historic churchyard of St James's, Piccadilly.

Speaking about the impact of setting up a roastery in a prison, Ted and Max say: “Compared to the national average, those who participate in our programme are 50 per cent less likely to reoffend.”

Redemption Roasters began roasting in HMYOI Aylesbury but relocated to HMP The Mount with larger production and a new Loring roaster, which can produce several tonnes of coffee every month.

Ted and Max already had experience in the world of coffee – Max is the co-founder of the successful Black Sheep Coffee, and the pair set up coffee wholesale company Catimor Ltd in 2015 – a year before Redemption Roasters.

To date, Redemption Roasters has saved over £2.5 million in taxpayers money from being spent in the criminal justice system.

Coffee roasting
St James's, Piccadilly shop

Ted and Max add: “On cultural attitudes we strongly believe common views of prisoners and ex-prisoners must change, this should be higher on the agenda than it is and it would help heal seemingly intractable divides in contemporary Britain.”

Redemption Roasters now has three barista academies inside HMP High Down, HMP Pentonville and HMP Send, and a community barista academy in Kings Cross to train people at risk of entering crime outside prison walls.

Piccadilly store graduate, Sercan Pinarbasi, who was referred to Redemption Roasters’ community barista academy said: “I had never worked as a barista before and did not know much about coffee.

“I found the training very encouraging and learnt a lot about where coffee comes from, how it is harvested and roasted.

“I’ve been in trouble before but since I’ve come here it’s amazing how I’ve been treated and that’s why I want to give 110 per cent to the company.”

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