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Monday 21 November 2016

Coffee with a cause: drink an espresso, help a refugee

Millions of Australians buy a coffee, or two, or three, a day. 

How many decide to buy a coffee with a cause? 

That's what Ben Cosford, owner of Soul City Roasters in Adelaide, is aiming to discover.

Cosford started roasting coffee in his garage with a popcorn popper in 2009, Then, in February last year, he outgrew his popcorn maker and decided to start selling coffee. 

Soul City Roasters a speciality coffee roaster that uses only ethically-sourced coffee beans - but also aims to create jobs for struggling migrant refugees. 

"We source green beans from various suppliers from across South and Central America as well as in Africa and Indonesia who work hard at relationships with the farms they source from," says Cosford. "I buy mainly from small, family-run farms that employ around 10-15 people.

"What I look for from suppliers are those who have a direct relationship with the farms, they know the farmer's names, they have met them and seen the farms and they share a common goal of improving the quality of life for those who work on the farms.

"My goal is to source some beans from a particular micro venture project that I have contact with in Burundi, but that has been difficult due to the political unrest there in the past 12 months."

So far, so good. 

"Our vision is to eventually give new arrivals to Australia work experience, and employment as we grow," says Cosford. "We’ve already been working in our local community to make recently-settled Australians feel welcome and included by sharing meals and holding events so that we can all get to know each other. 

"We’ve been working to set up the infrastructure so that eventually we can provide paid employment opportunities in the coffee roasting and making business and hopefully set a path for a career in hospitality in a welcoming community.

"In the Salisbury region of South Australia where SCR was founded, there are many refugees who have been settled here as recent arrivals to Australia. For them, settling in and making a new home is a long and often difficult process. One of their challenges is entering into the Australian workforce. In order to get a job, employers want to see some work experience, but you can't get that experience without a job.

"Here is where the SCR advantage lies. We have real ongoing relationships with new arrivals through community connections and programs that enable us to get to know these folk, see their character and their readiness for work, and be able to employ some without any previous Australian work experience."

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