Following the success of their business in London coffee shops and several prisons across the south of England, Max Dubiel and Ted Rosner are in discussions to bring their business, Redemption Roasters, north of the border, both to Scottish prisons and potentially to Edinburgh coffee shops.
Redemption Roasters provides work for offenders while they are in prison, teaching them both the skills necessary to work in a roastery and as a barista, and then aims to provide employment in their shops or elsewhere in the industry once they are released.
Speaking to The Courier, Mr Dubiel said that the work they do in prisons “delivers real skills for those leaving the criminal justice system,” which research shows plays a huge role in breaking the cycle of unemployment and re-offending.
According to the company’s website, offenders are 50 per cent more likely to offend if they leave prison without skills or a job, a figure which Redemption Roasters is working to change.
The duo behind the company met at St Andrews, and through being involved in a variety of student enterprises, such as balls and fashions shows, they developed an interest in placing social impact at the heart of their business.
While he recognised that one of the main point of balls and other events may be entertainment, Mr Dubiel believes that St Andrews students are aware of the wider impact they can have.
In a comment to The Saint, Mr Dubiel stated that he thinks the small size and tight-knit community of St Andrews means that students “have to be entrepreneurial” in order to create their own entertainment, and that this encouraged them to start their own business.
He also credited the fact that the vast majority of St Andrews events are run for charity, which encourages students to think about social enterprise from an early stage.
Both Mr Dubiel and Mr Rosner worked in the city for a period following their time at St Andrews, and Mr Dubiel said that this time working in the corporate sector has provided them with invaluable experience, showing both of them that there is “just as much chaos” behind the veneer of a big company as there is in a start-up.
Mr Dubiel also suggested that the tight bonds and contacts he developed with other students at St Andrews has made the process of starting this business far easier.
He encouraged any students considering starting businesses to “just do it,” as now is the best time in life to take action.
The stated aim of the company is to show that “the whole roasting process can be socially responsible,” producing a cup of coffee that ‘“raises the bar for everyone.”
Laura Boyle from HMYOI Aylesbury, a prison for young offenders in Buckinghamshire, England, described the company as a “shining example” of how the Prison Service works with industry partners in order to teach skills that really reduce re-offending.
Through their northern expansion, the St Andrews alumni hope to bring their initiative back to where it began, Redemption in Scotland.