Gemma Screen, Marketing Manager, Extract Coffee Roasters
Step 1) Value Natural Resources
Our business has been shaped by rebuilding and restoring the old instead of buying new and preserving our natural resources where we can. Since 2007 we’ve been bringing old roasters and espresso machines back to life through restoration, each time making them even more efficient than when new.
At our roastery in Bristol, everything from the training area, to our 4 roasters and our test roaster have been restored. So, when we decided to open a training space in central London we knew that we wanted it to be a community space for learning and that it had to be sustainably built following the same built-not-bought ethos.
And then, we found it. Plans for a collection of 50 sustainable businesses working in a shared space just two minutes from the buzz and excitement of Borough Market.
Step 2) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We found a space in a disused warehouse in central London, in the process of being transformed into Sustainable Bankside, Europe’s largest community of sustainable startups.
Our first few months were spent salvaging scrap materials from in and around the warehouse and reaching out to friends and contacts within our network to find the pieces we may need. Gradually our pile of scrap in what would become our London home grew and grew.
An old pub floor from what was once Joe’s Bar in Covent Garden, bathroom fittings from a housing project in Victoria. Sinks, pallets, taps, cabinets and even nails and screws all pulled from scrap.
Our unconventional approach to a fit-out earned us the nickname of The Wombles by the workmen and neighbouring businesses.
Step 3) Support the Community
We wanted a space for learning. Somewhere where we could share knowledge with our London and South-East coffee partners to help their businesses thrive. For us, the prospect of a retail space on the high-street (competing with our partners) just didn’t feel right.
From our new location, we’ll be hosting coffee cuppings and tastings, sustainability events and discussions. We’ll provide barista training and accredited SCA courses to baristas within our network.
Our London ‘base’ has helped us to expand the voluntary work we do with the Hotel School, providing barista training for homeless adults through The Passage charity. Already we’ve been able to train more and can now offer work experience placements – in a safe space where people can learn, grow and make positive change.
As part of a co-working space, we are now part of a new community too. The largest community of sustainable start-ups in Europe in fact, and are proud to be keeping our fellow Bankside residents; Winnow, Plumen, Cheeky Panda and Toast Ales, to name a few, fully caffeinated as they go about their day to day work of making our planet a better, greener, place to live.
Step 4) Treat Staff Fairly
The other big driver for finding this space was to give our London team a base they could call home. We’re not newcomers to London and the South East. We’ve been working remotely across the capital for years. But, as our London team grew we wanted them to have somewhere where they could come together.
The team worked so hard on this project. Our people from Bristol & London came together to saw, hammer, cut, build and screw. Gradually our space went from a pile of scrap in a warehouse to something which looks incredible.
Working this way has given our team an amazing sense of ownership over their own workspace. Built by them, for them, with them.
Step 5) Support Global Farmers
Of course, it’s not just how we built the space which makes it sustainable. But how we choose to use it going forward. Our coffee is all ethically sourced and we build long-lasting sustainable relationships with our farmers which grow year on year. Already at Bankside, we’ve been able to host some of our farmers visiting the UK to give talks and share their stories with our partners and communities. By meeting and talking to our global farmers, we can better understand how we can all work together to support our coffee-growing communities.
Step 6) Waste No Food
Our sustainable journey is ongoing. We’re already talking to bio-bean about recycling the waste coffee grounds produced at Bankside into coffee logs and bio-fuels. Conversations are also underway with Toast Ales as we look for ways to continue using food and coffee waste and our new community is paving the way for future, sustainable collaborations.