Trampoline Café in Camden, Central London provides barista and customer service training for refugees, helping them find employment and integrate into local society. The café was launched nearly two years ago by Pranav Chopra, founder of NEMI Teas and partners with The Hotel School, which supplies hospitality training for vulnerable people, and contract caterer Thomas Franks. Funding for the café is generated by sales and charitable donations by NEMI Teas.
Pranav says “Most training takes place at The Hotel School in London’s Victoria, although Ashkan, the café manager at Trampoline hosts training sessions too. Sometimes partner brands such as Extract Coffee show trainees how to make coffees using signature blends.”
On completing The Hotel School programme, participants are provided with a reliable reference and extensive work experience. They receive a certificate and find jobs at a range of hospitality venues through Trampoline’s employment partner Thomas Franks. “Some trainees choose to further their learning,” says Pranav. “For example, Tetiana, a recent graduate, was selected to take part in a ten-week barista training course at Well Grounded and is now a qualified barista.”
From Wednesday to Friday (8am to 4pm), Trampoline Café is run by Ashkan, the café manager, but at weekends, when it’s open from 9am to 5pm, he is joined by two other team members. The café has a small upstairs seating area for 15 people, as well as some tables outside on Camden Passage. There are plans to open Trampoline Café as a bar in the evenings.
The menu offers the full range of speciality coffee, Nemi Teas and soft drinks. The lunch-time menu includes dishes named after their creators such as Yogi’s chilli chicken ciabatta roll, Nafa’s epic veggie focaccia sandwich or Lidia’s Ethiopian lentil soup. Weekend specials include ricotta and spinach rolls, sweet potato spicy pastry, and a variety of sweet treats such as banana bread and carrot cake are also available.
The café not only provides training and employment for refugees, it is also a springboard for emerging businesses. The team regularly make shelf-space for exciting new brands and products to help them get started.
There are plans in the pipeline to open 14 more Trampoline cafés. Pranav says, “That is still our long-term goal, but at the moment we’re focusing on growing our sales at Trampoline Café and developing our business model.”
Ashkan, café manager of Trampoline Café, is a former accountant, who moved from Iran to London four years ago. He says “Moving to the UK was overwhelming for me and when you can’t communicate, it can lead to feeling depressed and isolated. Getting a job was my greatest achievement. Working at the café has definitely opened me up to the community and helped me feel more comfortable. Being promoted to manager has brought challenges but has given me more confidence. My favourite part of working with the team is that it has pushed me to be more outgoing and improved my English skills. It has made feel more settled in London and I’ve made new friends.”