13 April 2021
Meet The People Using Coffee As A Force For Change
On April 16, La Marzocco will take the discussion off the couch and into the community, as they visit the teams at Well Grounded, The Feel Good Bakery, Carmen's Family Coffee House and Off The Streets at their London bases to learn about those using coffee as a force for good. Ahead of this, we met a few of those involved to find out more about their day-to-day lives!

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m Matt Fleming – Operations and Marketing Manager for The Feel Good Bakery (TFGB). I joined the Feel Good team just over two and a half years ago.

Who inspires you, both in and out of the coffee realm?

I’ve been in the coffee industry for nearly six years now, and each year my love for coffee and the impact it can have on people’s lives has grown stronger. My journey has been hugely inspired by social enterprises, who I’ve seen use coffee to create change and bring people together. One of my earliest inspirations was Redemption Roasters, they really spoke to me with their vision of impacting re-offending rates, and their goal to train and create opportunities for people in prison.

Another huge inspiration is all the beneficiaries of TFGB. All the young people we work with show resilience, determination and willingness to learn and adapt. It’s an honour to be a part of their journey and see the difference we can make. They really motivate me to keep moving forward and create opportunities for them and other young people to thrive.

Tell us about a highlight since you started working with TFGB…

When I joined TFGB, our focus was to deliver sandwiches across London to offices and events. However, we had always wanted - and planned - to move outside of the commercial kitchen and launch our very own coffee shop in 2020, as this would enable us to employ more young people and expand the experience we offer to our beneficiaries. Due to Covid-19 we had to act fast and adapt our plan to launch a coffee shop.

This led us to launch a coffee cart - a converted Tuk Tuk that operated out of a shopping centre. Shortly after, we launched another, a converted horse box that is based in Battersea on the Thames path. Launching our two coffee carts and doubling the number of young people we can support has been a true highlight. Six months on, and measuring the impact this has had on all our beneficiaries has been super rewarding. We are really excited to continue to launch more coffee carts, and possibly a shop, in the near future. 

What something we should stay tuned for from TFGB?

It’s been a really great start to the year and we have lots of exciting plans for 2021/2022. We are going to be launching four new coffee carts, enabling us to create even more employment opportunities. Our latest coffee cart, a converted 1971 Citron H van, will be up and running by the end of May. You can follow this build and launch on our social media platforms.

What are you most excited for when physical events like LCF Live are back on?

Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of the next level Espresso Martinis! But more importantly, to learn how people have adapted and changed over the last year and continue to build partnerships with others in the industry that share a similar vision and want to collaborate. This is something that hasn’t been easy over the last year due to the pandemic, and I look forward to meeting people face to face again. Also, my LCF tote bag has seen better days and definitely needs an upgrade!

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello, my name is Aashifa and I am the senior coffee trainer at Well Grounded. I have formally been with WellGrounded as a team member since January 2019 but my journey with Well Grounded started in September 2016 as a student. Back in 2016 I had graduated from UCL in Education Studies with the vision of empowering and supporting people to overcome barriers. After graduating I struggled to find a job and this impacted the way I saw myself and my personal wellbeing.

During one of many catch ups with a friend in Store St Espresso, he recommended diversifying my search and looking for jobs. Then I found WellGrounded, met Eve, and was invited on to join the traineeship at the time. It was 8 weeks in length and had a work placement at Vagabond N7 - I worked there for two years, during which I transitioned from Barista to Head Barista. Some of my duties as Head Barista were training up the new staff members; it was during this time I revisited my goals to empower and support people, and re-realised my goals and visions for the world.

Who inspires you, both in and out of the coffee realm?

I’ve had to sit with myself and reflect on this question as so many people inspire me, and I think I am someone who gets a lot of energy, fulfilment, and inspiration from people as I believe in the good of people and believe that we can be the power of and for change.

Within coffee I am inspired by those that are pushing the tide and are willing to try something different and learn
from those experiences. I draw great inspiration from our Senior Management Team at Well Grounded, they have led a company and navigated us through a time of true uncertainty!

I also take great inspiration from our graduates and students. Recently, I have taken inspiration from Sophia, who took part in the Global Coffee Festival in 2020; so returning viewers might already know who she is. She opened up Carmens Family Coffee House, a family friendly cafe in Poplar, she's won multiple funding awards, and has continued to persevere in actualising her dream and vision. Truly entrepreneurial in every manner of the word - do go and visit her cafe!

Outside of the coffee industry I am inspired by literature and art, and I am going to focus on one person because I can go on and on. I have particularly taken inspiration from Ismat Chugtai, who was an Urdu writer and advocate for change in India/Pakistan. Her autobiography shares the limitations she experienced as a woman who was writing in that time. To put it into context, she wrote about femininity, female sexuality, about being a woman, and class conflict. For me, she has been a trailblazer and someone who has advocated for living an authentic life. I think currently we are in a time where identity, who we are and what we stand for is coming under a microscopic lens which can often lead to doubts and trepidation, so I am greatly inspired by this woman who lived through the partition of India/Pakistan and details the loss of identity, the loss of a language, and despite all of that persevering in being your authentic self, whatever that may be.

In general I gain a lot of inspiration from those that look at the world with a lens different to mine, are willing to be vulnerable, and are honest.

Tell us about a highlight since you started working at Well Grounded…

Once again, so many! A key highlight for me is being a part of an individual’s journey, from their first interaction with us at recruitment events right through to the graduation ceremony and watching them grow in their career. Seeing this progression brings me so much joy and gives me the opportunity as a trainer to learn more about myself and my training style. It’s not always an easy ride, but this is itself a highlight. Through challenges we develop deeper connections and develop greater empathy. I remember and cherish every trainee I have worked with.

A key highlight outside of training was opening the second academy in Kings Cross and setting that up as an SCA Premier Campus. For me that was an indication that our growth and impact will only strengthen and become more profound!

What should we stay tuned for from Well Grounded?

So many things! It's going to be a super exciting delivery year for us as we are supporting over 200 people into work next year across our two academies and potential pop-up academies in Leeds and Bristol. We are going to be launching a leadership development programme, working to ensure diversity is represented throughout the specialty coffee industry. We are continuing to develop our employer networks and building robust employment opportunities for our graduates and providing talent for an industry as it recovers. Additionally, providing mental health support and training for all our trainees and employers as we acknowledge the importance of mental wellbeing and health.

Lastly, a diverse range of private training courses with yours truly, from home barista to commercial tea building sessions. Tell all your friends because we’ve got a busy year ahead!

What are you most excited for when physical events like LCF Live are back on?

If we are hosting an event that is bigger than I can only imagine that hugging people is back on the table. I’m also really excited about the prospect of meeting new people and forming new connections to build a wider network. LCF as an event is so good at creating genuine connections with new people through their latte art throwdowns, stalls, and general educational opportunities. I’m also excited to learn of and seek new opportunities for the organisation and the graduates in our network. And of course, a La Marzocco party!


Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m Georg Mew Jensen, I’m 21 and live in East London. I’ve been working on Off the Streets for eight months, since it was first established. I’m in charge of the racing and logistics within the team. I used to race at the highest level on the road as a Junior and on the GB Apprentice Programme, so I know how elite racing works and what is exciting for both an athlete and a regular cyclist negotiating busy London streets. I am also in charge of our social media presence as the hype instigator. I am especially keen to explore technology and future collaborations in our racing series.

Who inspires you, both in and out of the coffee realm?

The Off the Streets team inspires me to push forward, we all have different skills to bring to the table and when we get our heads together our combined energy proves to be a powerful force.

My sister who is a springboard diver and GB athlete also inspires me; throughout lockdown she’s persevered with her training regime in order to compete at the Olympics this summer.

What has been your highlight since you started working with Off The Streets?

There have been many highlights, but the most rewarding has been seeing the smiles on people’s faces when we’ve managed to put races on. This last year has been tough for everyone and seeing people genuinely excited and happy to contribute, encourage and support team spirit has made all our hard work worth it.

What are the key factors about Off The Streets; why should people stay tuned?

Although racing is our main goal, it’s not our only preoccupation. Check out our apprenticeship programme with Catch22, our current and future collaborations, short films and of course our upcoming races as well as future events where we are looking forward to inviting a bigger crowd to sign up, take part and spectate.

What are you most excited about when physical events like LCF Live are back on?

I’m really looking forward to being able to fully connect with people and appreciate what can be achieved through physical, hands-on experience and support. Something I’ve really missed in lockdown is meeting new people and being able to exchange and extend our ideas. We’ve achieved such a lot working intensely in a vacuum, the future looks bright!
Keep in touch
Sign up to our newsletter
for the latest line-up updates
No thanks

You’re leaving the LCF Virtual site and heading to the
GCF Virtual site.
Do you want to do this?