Teachers use coffee to tackle unemployment in Cardiff

A social enterprise helping young adults and teens in Cardiff develop confidence and find work through free barista training.

Boss & Brew was founded in July in Boottown and Grangetown to teach 16- to 24-year-olds about the specialty coffee industry.

Natalie Hodgkinson, 33, has taught math for eight years, but when she wants to start a career in coffee, she decides to combine it with her love of educating young people.

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Natalie said: “When we were all working from home, I had an espresso machine in my house and decided to offer local coffee delivery where I live. Then young people with their love for coffee The idea to combine my love for working with came about. That’s how Boss and Bru was born.

“We have a significant number of youth in Grangetown and Butetown, but we also work with any group that faces some sort of barrier to employment and access to services. All of our workshops are a great way to attend. which is the key to the project.

“Through coffee, we want to boost people’s confidence, boost their well-being, and even take them out after the pandemic and encourage them to meet new people. Not only is it about boosting their confidence but it’s also about giving them new skills that they can go out and use in the workplace and be able to connect with local coffee shops as well.

“Our most popular workshop runs over two days. We cover four modules. We look at the history and origins of coffee and then learn how to make the perfect espresso. The third unit is about mastering milk and doing the art of latte. Finally we run into a community pop-up coffee shop where they have real experience making coffee and serving it to customers. They can invite their friends and family along and sometimes we have local councillors also come.

“They all get a certificate at the end, sometimes combined with other certifications like customer service on our more comprehensive courses. Then we also provide post-workshop support and proof-read their CVs .

“We run these acquisitions at Little Man Coffee and once a week people can come over and come over for support. I can even connect them with jobs at local coffee shops in Cardiff. Every week we have at least one At least two new apprentices come in, some people who have already got jobs and some who are good looking and just want to refresh their skills.”

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Natalie felt inspired to create Boss & Brew after seeing the impact of COVID-19 in her local community.

She said: “These last two years have been crazy for everyone, but especially young people. We’ve been in and out of lockdown constantly and one minute you’re allowed to see a friend and the next you’re not. Young people have actually had an impact on their well-being even when not suffering from a mental health condition.

“Another campaign is a massive hit that the hospitality industry has taken in the pandemic – coffee shops in particular. One minute they are open and the next they are not because restrictions are constantly changing. For a lot of coffee shops It’s really difficult because the start of the pandemic, when everybody went on vacation, everybody was at home and then of course, after a long time, all those baristas didn’t go back. It’s a barista role.”

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The course aims to improve youth’s well-being and self-confidence while developing employability skills and making friends

Natalie says that Boss & Brew has exceeded their expectations of what it can offer to young people and is growing really fast.

She said: “The biggest positive I see from this is that a group of young people start a workshop, barely talk too much, and then over the course of two days or four days they have to come out of their shell and work. Watching a team as they do is learning these new skills they may have never considered before.

“We are doing a few workshops with Green Hill Special School at the moment and they totally blew my mind this week. We also run workshops for women’s support.

“We are looking at running a number of small coffee shop locations, which will all be about providing young people with work space and trainees who want to go on employment, have some experience in shifts. The bigger plan is a training academy facility. , hopefully located in Boottown, which has lots of training equipment and a classroom.”

Natalie says that although this is not intentional, the specialty coffee industry lacks diversity. She said: “There’s an old saying that you can’t be what you can’t see so I like how Boss & Brew has helped me see more variety behind the coffee machine.

“Most of the youth who find jobs are from black and minority ethnic communities. Now I can go to a coffee shop and be served by a former apprentice of mine, who is confident.”

One of these trainees is 16-year-old Asiya Hakoma from Greentown. She attended Boss & Brew’s first training course and now works as a barista at The Hideout in Greentown.

Asya said: “I took the course around July and sometime after that I had a really good job, which is well paid. I was really excited about it because I expected results so fast Wasn’t.

“The course taught me a lot of patience and customer service skills. It was a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone. I learned to communicate well and take in information.

“It made me learn the proper way to make coffee and understand why I’m doing certain things while making it. I made new friends and definitely felt like I formed a really strong friendship with Natalie.”

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Natalie, who currently runs Boss and Brew herself, runs most of her workshops in Little Man’s Garage.

Asiya has been working as a barista for four months now. She said: “I work three times a week because obviously I’m in school. The pay is amazing – I get a living wage that’s great for my age. Sometimes my manager lets me close the cafe by myself Lets do it and I clear everything after my shift so I have huge responsibilities there.

“Boss & Brew definitely helped me get here, especially making coffee. I was tested before working here and had a lot of confidence in it showing me what I could do. It definitely helped me Has helped me gain confidence and make me where I am now.”

As a non-profit organization Boss & Brew is always on the lookout for funding and volunteers to help. You can visit Boss & Brew’s Twitter page Here,

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