Jail-serving coffee company secures £2.7m investment

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

'World's first prison-based roastery' secures £2.7 million investment
'World's first prison-based roastery' secures £2.7 million investment

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Redemption Roasters which aims to ‘reduce reoffending through coffee’ is set to treble revenue over next three years, after closing a successful funding round.

The UK coffee company has secured an investment totalling £2.7m, funded by Macquarie Group Foundation, R&Co4Generations, Barrow-Cadbury Trust, and crowdfunding via Crowdcube.

Launched in 2017 by Max Dubiel and Ted Rosner, Redemption Roasters both employs ex-cons and offers barista and coffee technician training programmes inside prisons.

Through a partnership with the Ministry of Justice, it offers these programmes in HMP Pentonville and High Down. It also operates a roastery inside HMP The Mount, where resident 'trainees' benefit from spending extended periods out of their cells working in a positive environment alongside Redemption Roasters’ team.

Through 14 partnerships with UK prisons to date, more than 1,500 individuals have taken part in Redemption’s programmes.

Their employed participants (who make up >20% of shop workforce) have a 4% reoffending rate compared to the national average of 38%.

So far, the business has recorded more than 60% year-on-year growth since 2019, with annual revenues projected to exceed £25m by 2026. This investment opens the business up to the next chapter of growth.

With a pre-money valuation of £22m, the company is set to launch four new retail premises over the coming months in London, and expand its wholesale network which currently includes clients KPMG, Meta and Amazon.

Moreover, with the UK branded coffee shop market valued at nearly £5bn per year, and research showing London’s market for independent coffee retailers has capacity for major growth compared to other international cities, Redemption Roasters is planning to open a further 17 shops in the capital by 2026.

Paul Plewman, regional CEO for Macquarie Group in EMEA – which invested in the business – and a member of the Foundation Committee, said: “We recognise those leaving prison face barriers to employment, but with support from organisations like Redemption Roasters they can overcome these barriers and gain fulfilling employment. Investing in the expansion of Redemption Roasters will help build a better society for us all.”

Commenting on the impact of this investment round, co-founder Dubiel added: “The proceeds will drive further growth of our brand and help us achieve even greater profitability through scale. This will also enable the business to do more to help prison leavers and further deliver on our wider social ambitions to support coffee producers throughout the world.”

Prior to launching Redemption Roasters, co-founder Dubiel worked as a strategy consultant with large consumer brands and was also a founder of Black Sheep Coffee, the UK’s fastest growing independent coffee chain. Meanwhile, his business partner Rosner, was qualified as a solicitor with white-shoe law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

The company’s executive team includes chairman Jonathan Heilbron, an experienced brand innovator who was former CEO at shirtmaker Thomas Pink and is now a partner at premium consumer fund Redrice Ventures.

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