The main point of difference here at Old Spike Roastery is around our social mission to help train, employ and house homeless people here in England. As a social enterprise, we of course need to firstly make sure our business can operate at a profit but equally important to us is our ability to also do some good for people in need. We know our coffee can more than compete on a taste perspective; we now want customers to know that they are doing some social good with every cup or bag of coffee they buy!
Cemal, one of the founders felt he wanted to make a change in his life and on a trip to Vietnam was inspired by a Silent Tea House. We had never heard the term social enterprise before but the concept was very interesting. To be able to open a business and support your local community and in the best case aim to help reduce a key problem in our society felt like a natural and exciting journey to take. At the same time, Richard (the other co-founder) was living in New York and noticed a developing micro roastery scene amongst local coffee shops who would house the roasting machine at the back of their shop - when he moved back to the UK, both ideas were combined and a new business was formed!
Training will vary based on the individual. At the moment, the focus is of course around coffee - in particular, being trained as a Barista by our other business partner Rob Dunne who is a well-known figure in the London coffee scene. Outside of that, we also offer individual training based on their needs. Our current barista at Old Spike Roastery is from Romania and as a result, does not speak great English so we have worked with another local social enterprise to offer English lessons that have steadily improved it over time. In addition to that, we also make sure she is interacting as much as possible with customers in the shop, which has helped tremendously! Longer term, we may well branch out beyond coffee and really get to know each person and learn from them what skills they want to develop and try where possible to accommodate.
The coffee we roast (like many other roasters) will vary depending on the season. Given that our shop is relatively small, we tend to offer two speciality coffees at any one time; one for all espresso based drinks which we also sell wholesale and then one slightly lighter roasted, higher acidity coffee for filter. This tends to work really well as both coffees are usually quite different from a taste perspective and really opens our customers up to new flavours. At the moment, we are down to our last bag of our Inza Cacua (Colombian) for espresso and have a delicious Tanzanian for our filter. The Tanzanian in particular is from a coffee farm that helps at risk young people by offering life skills and training for future employment!
Peckham is definitely on the up and changing quickly! It is great place to start a business and an area both Cemal and I grew up in. Although the change is undeniable, unlike other places in London experiencing the same kind of gentrification, Peckham has a unique charm and community that truly care about its future, which is great to be a part of.