Dickon and Joel had no idea that in just four years of starting their business, they would be nominated for “Best All-Round Specialty Coffee Roaster” at the London Coffee Festival. From avid home brewers to owners of New Ground Coffee, it has been a long and rewarding journey for Joel and Dickon. Joel and Dickon’s altruistic goals of starting a roastery continue to motivate and inspire their community, employees, and wholesalers associated with them. Beyond roasting specialty coffee, they are on a mission to offer education, support, and jobs to those who have served time in jail.
The journey to help the formerly incarcerated started with Joel, who grew up in a rough area of Liverpool. When he was young, he was living in a not-so-great neighborhood with his family, until they eventually moved to the south coast to a safer and calmer area of England. As he got older, he noticed that quite a few of his friends started to enter the prison system and were unable to break the toxic loop of being reincarcerated. The unfairness of this struck him a bit. Dickon and Joel both feel that time in prison often leads to a decline in work experience and training, which can lead to ex-offenders returning to criminal activity. Around 50% of those who leave jail in the UK end up going back if they are not employed in the first twelve months. The unfortunate part of the current system is that 95% of employers won’t take a second look at people with a criminal background as being employable.
Joel and Dickon knew they wanted to use New Ground Coffee to help those who have been released from prison and are looking to grow their professional skills. Dickon says, “We wanted to do more than just make a business to help us. We wanted to help the community. We wanted to give guys a second chance as they got out of prison.”
They are currently in the process of building a 12-week program for ex-offenders to help them reintegrate and get back on their feet. They will provide classes on housing, budgeting, and financial literacy. Their end goal is to connect these ex-offenders with the wholesale companies they currently sell coffee to and be a middleman for them to find viable and stable work. “These guys have made some mistakes and have done some bad things in the past, but they served their sentence, did their time, and they’ve been punished and rehabilitated during that time, so why not give them a second chance?” Dickon states.
As New Ground continues its journey to help others and sell delicious and high-quality coffee, Dickon and Joel have some exciting new opportunities in store. A new coffee shop is potentially in their future which will be a huge achievement for the company and the New Ground team. The details are still in the works, but we can promise it will be fantastic, original, and absolutely worth a visit to Oxford. As well as opening a new cafe, they plan on purchasing an S70 roaster down the road, continuing to grow their wholesale business, and providing support to their community and the formerly incarcerated folks that need it the most.