Award-winning coffee company and social enterprise Change Please has launched a café and baking academy in the reception area of financial services firm Barings in the City of London.
The new facility will equip Change Please employees, all of whom have been affected by homelessness, with "new skills and opportunities in a different sector".
The site at 20 Old Bailey includes kitchen space for Change Please, whose trainees will benefit from one-to-one training with Barings' pastry chef Jerome Bruno. The café, unveiled earlier this month by Thomas Finke, chief executive and chairman of Barings, and Cemal Ezel, chief executive and founder of Change Please, coincided with the launch of the coffee company's "New York style, molten-centred, oversized cookies".
The new bakery line complements the group's existing beverage offering and will be rolled-out across Change Please sites nationwide as the training programme develops.
The launch bolsters the recent partnership between Change Please and Barings and follows the opening of coffee kiosks at Goodge Street and Clapham Common London Underground stations earlier this year. Moreover, the collaboration has enabled Change Please to employ and support 14 homeless people, while a further seven have moved into longer-term employment.
"I am particularly excited that the facility at Barings provides the space we need for further training, enabling us to extend our product range to deliver delicious treats for customers which will help people experiencing homelessness," said Ezel.
The café, open to the public and Barings staff from Monday to Friday, serves barista-style coffee and freshly baked cookies. In the adjoining kitchen, under the guidance of Bruno, trainees will prepare and bake the cookies.
A spokesperson for Barings said: "The cookies are all handmade from natural ingredients and include a vegan and gluten-free option. Dozens of taste trials were undertaken across Barings staff for each flavour before the individual recipes were finalised." Seasonal flavours will feature throughout the year alongside the signature recipes which include triple chocolate and oatmeal and raisin.
The opening at Barings is the first of three new sites in London poised to widen Change Please's reach and increase their positive impact in the homeless community. By Spring 2020 two further sites will open at Victoria tube station and Elephant Park, a two-acre, green space development with over 50 shops, restaurants and cafés in Elephant & Castle where Change Please will venture into an evening format serving cocktails.
Launched in 2015 with a Virgin Startup loan, Change Please operates coffee carts and kiosks in London and supplies freshly roasted coffee to Virgin Atlantic and WeWork office spaces in Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh. Its vision for 2020 includes a "heavy expansion" in Manchester and ambitious international plans that will see new openings in Sydney, key cities in the United States and 11 sites in Paris by the end of the third quarter.
The company has won several awards, including most recently the Queens Award for Enterprise and the Coffee accolade at The Caterer's Product Excellent Awards 2019.
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