Ethical coffee brand, Change Please, has been named the Supreme Champion of this year’s New Producer Awards at the Bread & Jam Festival held at the Institute of Directors in London
Founded by Cemal Ezel, Change Please is a social enterprise that provides homeless people with the skills, equipment and support required to become baristas, selling high-quality coffee from mobile carts. The coffee is sourced from regular suppliers and is roasted at the Old Spike Roastery in Peckham.
Seven food and drink companies took part in a hotly-contested competition in which they pitched their products to a panel of judges made up of some of the most prestigious names in fine food, including John Shepherd of Partridges, Ashton Marriott of Cotswold Fayre, Michael Weber of Whole Foods, Adam Sopher of Joe & Seph's, Jason Gibb of Bread & Jam and Holly Shackleton of Speciality Food.
The candidates who took part were named winners of their individual categories earlier on in the competition, allowing them to go on to pitch their products at Bread & Jam.
The unveiling of the Supreme Champion marks the conclusion of this year's New Producer Awards, which saw hundreds of food and drink start-up companies enter their products in the hope of getting their wares in front of industry buyers, shop proprietors and magazine editors.
Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please said, “I'm really blown away. Some really amazing companies entered this year, and I didn't even expect us to get close, so to win it has just blown my mind really. I think the judges really understood the environmental, social and financial sustainability factors that we focus on and I think that was the clinching element, but to even get into the finals was a real privilege.
"In terms of what's next for Change Please - we're going to be opening new corporate sites where we'll be replacing more well-known brands with an ethical brand. We're also going to be opening sites in America as well, as the problem with homelessness in the US at the moment is obviously really bad.”
John Shepherd, chair of judges and director of Partridges said, “I've seen a number of excellent producers with some outstanding stories. The overall winner was outstanding in every way. It's an idea that has been developed and has been seen through to the end where he has helped 70-odd homeless people to embark on a new career and help them through that process - it's simply incredible. He's ticked pretty much every single box along the way - we'd love to have the product in our shops and support his mission."
Jason Gibb, judge and founder of Bread & Jam festival said, "I was so chuffed that Change Please won as I think what they're doing is mind-blowing in every aspect. They obviously have a great product, but the fact that it has a social mission behind it just blew us all away. Cemal is really passionate and authentic and has obviously thought about the business extensively - he was really compelling. If you're going to buy brilliant coffee you might as well buy coffee with a great cause behind it.
"People have been really excited about the New Producer Awards - it's a great way to recognise our community. So many people who came today entered, so they're really engaged with it. For its first year I think it did fantastically well and it's just going to grow and grow."
Holly Shackleton, editor for Speciality Food magazine said, "Meeting the finalists of the New Producer Awards and hearing their stories face-to-face confirmed what I had long suspected - that the talent and passion in today's food and drink industry is second to none. I couldn't be happier to present Change Please as our first Supreme Champion. They were deserving winners of our Sustainable category, and we're proud to have them as the face of our awards and the representative of today's young food and drink businesses."