Making An Impact : Freedom in a Cup
Tackling human trafficking one coffee at a time.
Can a cup of coffee help save the world? David and Tracey Dickinson of Grind Coffee Bar show how a little creativity can make a global impact.
Leafy Putney, southwest London, is not the most obvious place from which to change the world.
But there, on one of its quaint streets, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, stands Grind Coffee Bar, a quirky and friendly coffee shop.
David and Tracey Dickinson, the owners, are busy thinking outside the box and brewing up a recipe to help fight human trafficking.
It is here that they tell MAGNIFY about their business, passion and imaginative ideas that inspire us to follow in their footsteps and use what’s in our hands to fight global issues.
David was born and bred in York, UK. As a drummer, he came to London to pursue his passion in music. That’s where he met his future wife, Tracey, who had moved to London from New Zealand to join her family. They got married four years ago.
Two years later the couple decided to set up their own coffee business, starting with a small coffee shop in Putney, Grind Coffee Bar. They now run three coffee shops across London.
David and Tracey are not scared of thinking outside the box. A few months ago they decided to support The A21 Campaign by producing funky and stylish re-usable coffee cups that come in original colour combinations.
These cups, which feature the A21 logo, not only raise people’s awareness of a global issue, but also raise funds to help solve it.
How long have you been in the coffee business?
D: Grind Coffee Bar started very small with just a coffee machine and us in late 2009.
T: Dave had a music store for a few months before our friends gave us a fabulous espresso machine. At first we made free coffees for our musician friends, but soon the coffee shop got busier and overtook the music. That’s when we realised we should just do coffee. We started with a small shop in Putney and we now have three shops.
Three? One in Putney and…
D: Westfield Stratford, in the heart of the Olympic Park, and a pop-up shop by the river in Battersea.
What was your vision for setting up Grind?
D: My dream is to make quality coffee more convenient, just like other good coffee shops around Soho in London do. Most of them are tucked away. You have to go looking for them off the high street, but they do exist.
What drew your interest to The A21 Campaign?
T: I love the charity and its founder, Christine Caine. What’s not to love about someone who fights for those who are the victims of trafficking?
D: Close friends of mine, Nick and Vicky Rough, moved to Bulgaria from Australia to run the A21 campaign. I shared with Nick my idea of re-usable cups with A21 branding, which he presented to Nick and Christine Caine. They loved the idea and allowed us to use their logo.
Where did the idea come from?
D: There’s a coffee bar in Surrey that sells coffee and gives money to A21 and other charities. Inspired by them, I reached out to KeepCup, a company that makes ‘barista friendly’ re-usable cups. I also designed the bands that go round the cups, which were made in Australia.
T: People advertise The A21 Campaign just by walking in the streets holding their coffee cup.
How did your customers respond when you explained the idea behind the cups?
D: The locals loved that they were doing more than just getting their coffee – they were also helping people. Selling the cups doesn’t generate much money on its own, though, as they cost money to make.
T: It’s re-using them: what you save on using one of our paper cups goes to A21.
What difference do you hope to make by supporting A21?
D: The amount of money we give compared with the amount they need to support their work is incredibly small. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Running a small independent business, we don’t have spare cash to donate, but we found a way of making a saving, which we pass on to something that will make a difference in someone else’s life.
How can people who are interested support A21?
D: You can come up with an idea to do something to raise money or you can just click and donate on the A21 website. We chose the former, which is more valuable because it’s not just a one-off donation.
What advice would you give to other businesses or entrepreneurs that are interested in supporting such causes?
D: Just do it! Think about what you are doing and make it affordable. Run a profitable business. You are no help to anyone else if you are not running your business profitably.
T: It’s just using what is in your hands. We use our coffee cups and give money to A21. There are other ways – you just have to think outside the box.
If you’ve been inspired and would like to find out more about A21 and the work they do to fight human trafficking, visit their site. And if you are ever in London, why not try one of Grind’s famous flat whites in one of their coffee bars? For locations and opening times, visit www.grindcoffeebar.co.uk.
Interview by Tatyana Marsh
Photography by Gemma Cameron