190310 aylesbury
A 20-year-old male prisoner makes coffee inside Aylesbury. Image Credit: Reuters

• The Redemption Cafe is housed at HM Prison Aylesbury, a young offenders’ institution for 17- to 21-year-old men serving long sentences. It is home to the world’s only coffee roaster within a prison.

• The seeds of the association were sowed in April 2016 at the London Coffee Festival when Lee Johnson, then head of reducing reoffending at Aylesbury, approached wholesalers Max Dubiel and Ted Rosner with a simple question: would they consider working with prisoners so that the young men were able to find employment as coffee baristas on their release?

• As Dubiel and Rosner thought the offer over, they wondered if they could take it a stage further and actually roast their coffee in a prison. As wholesalers, they knew that roasting your own coffee provides much greater control over the finished beans but that finding and financing a coffee roaster can bring a heavy financial burden.

• As Johnson considered their counter-proposal, Dubbiel and Rosner merged their business with another, run by Harry Graham. The plan ultimately won over — and now the facility is roasting up to three tonnes of coffee beans a week.

• Redemption Roasters pays the prison a rent with which it in turn pays the prisoners. The costs of shipping large quantities of raw materials in and out of prison can actually be as much as three times higher than in a conventional commercial situation.