CASE STUDY: RESEARCH PROJECT – When two worlds meet…magic happens

Last week thirteen 16 and 17 year olds from local schools entered the world of Brixton’s independent coffee shops to research attitudes to coffee cup recycling. The result was amazing. Not only did they do a brilliant job for the Brixton BID, but a new world of opportunity was revealed to them – and they came up with a plan to capitalise on it.

It was wonderful to see the development in our team. In a few short days, they overcame shyness and became seasoned and confident young researchers.
It was wonderful to see the development in our team. In a few short days, they overcame shyness and became seasoned and confident young researchers.

The research project

Brixton is one of twelve areas to win funding from the Cup Fund to bolster and scale paper cup recycling. Next month Brixton BID will launch its coffee cup recycling scheme. The project aims to raise awareness of coffee cup recycling, promote reusable cups and collect 150,000 paper cups in dedicated coffee cup recycling bins. 

We Rise was commissioned to carry out research with 500 coffee drinkers before the project launches. We’ll also be doing research at the end of the project to see the difference it has made.

Brixton has 23 independent coffee shops, a surprisingly large number, and this is where our young researchers conducted their surveys. Meeting at 8am every morning (by the F.Mondays coffee truck in Windrush Square) the team were sent in pairs to different locations across Brixton. With a bit of friendly competition the team worked really hard, managing to exceed their target of 500 in just three mornings of fieldwork.

Some locations were easier than others so we got a really good idea of which coffee shops are busiest in the mornings. The most popular places were Stir Coffee on Brixton Hill, Brixton Blend on Tunstall Road, Balance Cafe on Ferndale Road, the F.Monday’s truck and San Marino on Brixton Station Road.

Chris Interviewing in Stir.JPEG
Emmanuel and Emma interviewing at Balance cafe.JPEG

Brixton’s coffee shop culture – a world young people don’t know

All sorts of great things happen in coffee shops:

  • People come to work – alone, or with clients, colleagues and collaborators. Creative things happen: Projects are developed; Problems are solved; Opportunities are pursued.
  • People drop in on the way to work – A friendly barista and a cup of coffee is an important part of the daily routine.
  • People come to socialise and meet friends. Mums gather after school drop off. Flatmates start their day together. People who are not working or working from home come for human contact, news and to put the world to rights. At weekends, friends and family meet for brunch.

Much of Brixton life happens here.

But it’s a world our young researchers have never seen before. Spending time and finding themselves so welcome they started to feel at home – interacting with customers and  observing what was going on.

They started getting curious about coffee, noticing the different smells and talking to the coffee shop owners about the business.

Ali, Owner of the busy Balance Cafe on Ferndale Road (right) has given his backing to this youth led initiative.
Ali, Owner of the busy Balance Cafe on Ferndale Road (right) has given his backing to this youth led initiative.

Young Grind – a youth led initiative to connect young people to work with coffee

They also noticed that many coffee shops were advertising for staff and wondered how young people like them might be able to get a job. Chatting to Ali, owner of Balance Cafe, they discovered he wants to train local youngsters to access these jobs and would be up for collaborating in a collective effort.

Emmanuel’s logo idea, using a fist in the shape of a coffee grinder. Grind also means to make money.
Emmanuel’s logo idea, using a fist in the shape of a coffee grinder. Grind also means to make money.
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