Change please

| Helen Sharp

How would you like your coffee this morning? If you’re London based, why not buy from a Change Please barista. This social enterprise has demonstrated a radically different way of doing things. Now it’s beginning to scale up rapidly to take on the industry’s really big names.

Change Please was set up two years ago by Cemal Ezel. He worked in the City before becoming disillusioned with what he was doing. He pledged to create an ethical coffee company that would benefit not only the small-holder coffee bean farmers but also a growing population much closer to home. This is where the Hub’s interest lies.

Since 2010, the UK’s homelessness population has doubled. Meanwhile, the UK’s love of coffee continues to rise. Cemal has devised a way to link the two. The coffee beans arrive in the UK and people who have been sleeping on the streets roast them. They are also trained as baristas to work at the company’s 17 locations. Change Please pays the London Living Wage and provides help with opening bank accounts, housing, therapy and assistance with onward employment. All profits are put back into helping to reduce homelessness.

If we can just get a small proportion of coffee drinkers to simply change where they buy their coffee, we could really change the world.

Cemal Ezel

And while the larger coffee companies stumble over plans to reduce plastic waste, all of the cups used by Change Please are 100 per cent recyclable.

Cemal has set his sights on Change Please becoming the fourth largest coffee company in the UK. And with growing interest from big companies including Sainsburys and Transport for London, this doesn’t seem such an unreachable dream.

But it’s the employees that really drive the business. Interestingly, Change Please’s main problem is not lack of demand for its products but lack of capacity to help the rapidly increasing number of people sleeping rough in the UK. So make your coffee do good this morning and buy your skinny latte from your local Change Please barista.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

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