Cafe shuts up shop
THREE community-minded friends brewed up an impressive dream – the Roskill Coffee Project.
The aim was to give young people who were struggling to get work a chance, by giving them training and work experience.
Watching them come out of their shells has been the best part of the job, co-founder and manager Paul Fletcher says.
The doors opened on their fair trade, social enterprise cafe last December but after a bittersweet year they are closing.
Co-founder Anashuya Fletcher says the business in its current context isn’t sustainable.
‘‘Poor Rowan sits there every week and looks at the figures. He has done a superb job of keeping us going,’’ she says.
‘‘But there are too many days where it is just too hard,’’ she says.
However, this isn’t the end of the road for the trio’s cafe dreams.
Paul says they will be up and running in a new Mt Roskill location within the next 18 months.
‘‘We want to come back even stronger,’’ he says.
‘‘All the value-based stuff will come with us. We want to grow on some of it, like our connection with We Compost has made us think about how we can minimise our environmental impact.’’
Paul says they will use this time to perfect their comeback.
‘‘Whatever we decide to do has to be for the next 10 years so we need to make solid foundations and that takes time,’’ he says.
‘‘At the end of it we need to be able to compete in that cafe market.’’
That was one of biggest driving factors behind the decision to shut up shop at the location behind the Wesley community centre, the 30-year-old says.
‘‘To compete we need a full kitchen. That is a significant investment of say $120,000.’’
He says they had to question the practicality of pouring that kind of money into the current council-owned space.
‘‘We love this setting but if there isn’t a market on and it isn’t a sunny day then it is quite isolating.’’
He says Auckland Council has been incredibly supportive of their business and its community focus.
Giving disadvantaged young people an opportunity to work in the cafe and gain some experience has been a highlight, Paul says.
‘‘I can’t believe that these young people have been struggling to find an opportunity,’’ he says.
‘‘Seeing them thrive, it is just the stuff you live for.’’
Fifteen young people have come through the Roskill Coffee Project work experience programme.
‘‘All that have finished it have found employment.’’
Barista Kesaia Sisi, 20, learnt about coffee and the industry from Paul.
‘‘It was pretty scary coming in here, I knew nothing and it was the first job I’d ever had in my entire life,’’ she says. ‘‘This cafe is way different to anything else, it’s more than a cafe.
‘‘I love coming in here to work. I don’t know what I will do next.’’
Closing shop: Founders Anashuya Fletcher, Rowan Johanson and Paul Fletcher are closing the doors on The Roskill Coffee Project.
Last call: Roskill Coffee Project employee Kesaia Sisi, 20, is serving up some of her last brews at the cafe.