Coffee shops have the capacity, and very often are, a force for good. It is something we’ve seen time and time again, and though not in short supply, feels very much needed in the world. And today’s Build-Outs of Coffee feature is offering that sort of help to the young people of Winnipeg. Sam’s Place Coffee, a part of the Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba, is using the coffee shop as a means of imparting employable skills to youth and young adults who may have barriers to entering the workforce.
Participants learn the necessary skills to being a barista over the course of four to eight months through a series of workshops and mentorships. Then, at the end of the program, they are then aided in finding permanent employment with another local coffee shop or as a full-time member of the Sam’s Place staff. It all goes to show the power a simple cup of coffee has to make a lasting, positive impression on someone’s life.
As told to Sprudge by Alison Greenslade.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Our coffeeshop is a Social Enterprise of Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba (a regional chapter of MCC Canada). We aim to equip and empower young people to overcome barriers by bridging the gap toward meaningful employment. We do this by providing a robust and intentional training program for young people to come and learn over the span of a four- to eight-month period in an inclusive and safe community of trainers, mentors, and supportive volunteers. Not only do we provide hands-on training, we also provide workshops, certificates, and engagement opportunities for our Participants to receive well rounded teaching. Once done in our Program, participants will be onboarded to paid work outside of Sam’s Place, stay at Sam’s Place as a paid staff member, or move on to another enriching opportunity.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our coffeeshop is incorporated into our MCC Manitoba office headquarters. Located at 100-140 Bannatyne Avenue. We are occupying a 105-year-old historic building in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District (where many movies are filmed!). You can read more about the history of our building here.
Our coffeeshop is occupying a portion of the main floor and the patio (which used to be a night club!). We have a large seating area for customers to spend time in. Large windows take up the majority of the north facing wall so we will receive a lot of natural sunlight during the day. There is exposed brick as well as post-and-beam construction throughout the space. Our design of the space highlights these beautiful timeless pieces with a modern spin. Incredibly high ceilings make the room feel big and spacious, but wood furnishings and textured paneling make it feel soft and approachable.
We’ve carefully crafted our cafe area to highlight our program. Program content will be highlighted gallery style on our walls. A statement of safety and belonging is also present. Not only will you be able to discern our program priorities in the space, but you’ll also be able to experience the other programs our parent non-profit runs. The cafe seating sits across from a large glass room, where the MCC Manitoba Material Resources volunteers make quilts and pack hygiene kits for people in need overseas. A customer of Sam’s Place will be able to watch and engage with this international work while they enjoy a cup of coffee in our space. Quilts will be on display as well along these glass walls.
It is truly a hybrid of program integrity and beautiful intentional design that is not often found in non-profit spaces.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Approachable third wave. The goal of our program is to provide young people an opportunity to learn new skills they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attain on their own. This means dismantling barriers wherever possible, as Third Wave Coffee is notorious for having high barriers of entry and a lack of diversity. We do this by providing intentional hands-on training and barista certifications so that folks who are not often represented in the Third Wave industry can start to occupy those spaces by becoming professional baristas after they leave our program.
We are working with Rosso Roasters to brew some of the best tasting, sustainable, coffee in Canada. We are excited to work with them to build our curriculum. We knew Rosso was the right choice for us when we learned about their direct Fairtrade, eco-friendly, and social impact priorities. We can feel good serving this intentionally roasted coffee.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Bulk Brewer – Curtis Double Brewer D1000Gt ZZNT162
Espresso Machine – Victoria Arduino VA358 White Eagle two-Group
Espresso Grinder – Nuova Simonelli Mythos Clima Pro NDC
Automatic Tamper – Puq Press Q2 Auto Tamper
Single Dose/Decaf Grinder – M42D Macap Grinder
Bulk Grinder – Mahlkönig EK43 Shop Grinder
Hot Water Dispenser – BUNN 39100.0000 H5E-DV PC
Pour-Over – TBD
Cortado/Espresso Cups – Loveramics Tasting Cups in Purple and Yellow
Latte/Capuccino Bowls – Coffee Addicts Latte Bowls in Glossy Pink
Coffee Mugs – Maxwell Williams Mug in Sherbet Lilac
How is your project considering sustainability?
Our parent non-profit has arranged for carbon neutrality in the construction of the space, specifically partnering with a tree planting company to offset the carbon emissions given off by the construction process.
Rosso, the roaster that we are working with uses one of the only green bean sorting machines in North America so they can purchase less than ideal beans from farmers. They also use direct fair trade practices, have give back programs, and use compostable packaging.
We carry a Creation Care mandate in our work (both programmatic and operational) as dictated by our parent non-profit.
We sell locally made goods to highlight local makers and creatives in Manitoba and Canada. This also cuts down on our carbon footprint as we receive a lot of our inventory locally.
Some parts of the project, such as our bar seating counters, are re-tooled furnishings from the previous set up.
The building has an eco-friendly heating and cooling system using heat pump technology.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Hard launch will be after the first weekend of September 2023.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?