well grounded graduates – carmen’s family coffee house

March 1, 2021 in UK & Ireland

With unemployment levels having risen by 86% since 2015, and coffee consumption levels increasing 4.9% yearly, La Marzocco are proud to support Well Grounded in training and supporting unemployed adults in gaining work in the coffee industry.

Sophia, a graduate of Well Grounded, has recently started her own coffee venture in the form of Carmen’s Family Coffee House in Poplar East London, with her aim to create a family-orientated, community-based coffee shop, with a name paying tribute to her late mother, becoming a reality in December ’20.

We spoke to Sophia about her journey as part of last years Global Coffee Festival (you can watch her interview here) but we’ve managed to catch up with her again to find out more about her space, her time with Well Grounded and her ambition for the future:

Before embarking on her coffee journey with Well Grounded, Sophia knew very little about the coffee industry. The extent of her coffee experience was made of regular visits to East London Cafes with her dad, a builder, during his working day. But beyond this, her knowledge of the scene was no more than a love for a coffee with friends.

Setting up a café, in the middle of a global pandemic, isn’t easy however Sophia’s upbeat attitude to the current situation is reinforced by the mentality of doing this for her late mother, Carmen – the namesake of both her daughter and the café.

Her mother’s legacy lives on in more than just the name, the Ecuadorian menu currently under construction and Ecuadorain guest beans are all references to the South American heritages Sophia and her mother share. The sense of family and community is also impossible to ignore, all thanks to the effort that Sophia and her dad have put into making the coffee house a welcoming environment for all.

The vision behind the shop is something Sophia has had since she had her daughter: an inviting, community, child-friendly coffee shop to help get people out of the house and into a space where they feel welcome. Complete with a buggy park, toy stores and baby-friendly menu, Carmen’s Family Coffee House has stayed true to Sophia’s dream.

“The real reason that I set it up was to get people out of their houses in the area and to have a different sort of setting to go to. For me, I went through a point when I had Carmen where I was isolated in the house too scared to go out, all the local places that I’d go to were so uninviting and unwelcoming – what’s the point in going out? That’s where it came from.”

Sophia’s time at Well Grounded is cited as a massive factor in her gaining the confidence to follow through with her goal. Well Grounded supported Sophia through a 12-week specialty coffee training, mentorship, and work placement programme, which saw her work as a Barista at Notes Coffee Shop in Canary Wharf and introduced to Rob Robinson, Notes Co-Founder. Both Well Grounded and Rob continue to support Sophia to follow her ambitions.

“Well Grounded really elevated me to another level that probably would have taken me years to get to…. I’m so grateful to Well Grounded because I don’t think I would have had the guts to have gone further if it wasn’t for the course.”

Hopefully, the pandemic restrictions will ease in the coming months and Carmen’s Family Coffee House can open fully, providing the setting for local parents, children, and other coffee lovers as intended. But for now, Sophia is serving takeaways and looking forward to the belated grand-opening of Carmen’s Family Coffee House.

In the meantime, if you want to support Sophia, follow her Instagram or pop in for a takeaway. If you are looking for work and need some support during this time, get in touch with Well Grounded, who offer a free training, mental health and wellbeing programme, moving their trainees into work across their network of 100s of employers.

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