Thomas graduated from Employment Preparation Programme 16 in April 2016. During his time on the programme, Thomas completed work experience as a commis chef in our kitchen – this positive experience made him realise that hospitality could be a good place to work. After graduation he was barista-trained at social enterprise Well Grounded, which sparked a passion for coffee and allowed him to secure work at the Old Spike Roastery in Peckham. Now, Thomas has taken his passion for coffee to the next level and, alongside business partner Jamal, has launched his own coffee brand, Coffeestry.

Thomas and Jamal met whilst Thomas was working at Old Spike, where he became a popular member of the local community. Around this time, Thomas had also started working with Old Spike’s sister company, Change Please (who’s coffee we use at the House!), where he provided barista training and qualified as an Authorised Speciality Trainer with the Speciality Coffee Association. But, when Covid-19 hit in 2020, all training sessions were put on hold and his job became insecure.

During lockdown, Thomas quickly realised that he missed the interaction with others that he got from training. Thomas and Jamal began to discuss different options to work with coffee whilst navigating the changing Covid-19 rules. With the increase in home-working and the realisation that people were missing out on their morning barista-brew, they hit upon the idea for Coffeestry. Coffeestry is a coffee-subscription service – think Netflix, but for barista standard coffee. Thomas and Jamal focus on great quality coffee paired with exceptional customer service – whether you’re starting out on your home-barista journey or you’re an experienced coffee connoisseur, they’ve got you. There’s a range of brewing guides available on the Coffeestry website which draw on all of Thomas’ barista experience to help you create coffee that’s up there with your favourite barista-brewed mug.

Coffeestry has a focus on ethical, fully traceable, and sustainable coffee beans, and pledge to plant a tree for every bag of coffee purchased via a donation to the Eden Reforestation Project. One day, they hope to be able to support a cause like the House of St Barnabas.

Ceri Sheppard, Director of Impact at the House, worked with Thomas whilst he was on the programme, she says: “Thomas’ resilience and ambition confirms the importance of building these strengths during our Employment Preparation Programmes at the House and through the support of our Barnabas mentors. His story also reminds us of the importance of having a network of good employers who support training and progression.  Throughout all the ups and downs which have led to this point, Thomas has continued to give back, and I’d like to thank him for returning to the House on training recruitment days, to motivate people to join the programme and change their lives, just as he did.”

We’re all really proud of everything that Thomas has achieved and can’t wait to try out Coffeestry for ourselves. None of this would have been possible without the support of our membership community – thank you.

Hear more about Thomas’ time at the House, here.

Read more about how we’ve been supporting Employment Academy graduates through the Covid-19 pandemic, here.