On 20 August, Trade School Industries launched a project two years in the making: Trade School Kitchen, a café that employs former inmates.
“We began by running barista courses out of a women’s prison,” says Lauren Tennent, Training and Employment Manager at Trade School Industries.
“It got to a point where the training program was running really well, and the women were getting great skills out of it, but the employment pathways just weren’t there. So, we came up with the idea of opening a café to employ the women we train once released.”
Trade School Kitchen is based in Naenae, a suburb of Lower Hutt with affordable housing but little in the way of hospitality options.
“The site is perfect. It’s cheap rent for us being a charitable trust and there is affordable housing for the women coming out [of prison],” Lauren says.
“We’re in a community where there aren’t really any cafés at the moment and we’ve had such an amazing response. There are not really any healthy food options.
A lot of people are moving out to Naenae so we wanted to provide a café hub for the community.”
Trade School Kitchen uses New Zealand-based roaster Peoples Coffee’s Don Wilfredo blend for its espresso. It is complex, full-bodied with chocolaty sweetness and creamy caramel overtones.
While Trade School Kitchen currently has Coffee Supreme’s Ethiopian Sede on filter, Lauren says its single origins will rotate throughout the year.
“New Zealand’s hospitality industry has been so generous and on board with our idea, they have gone above and beyond to help get us on our feet,” she says.
Within its first three months of operation, Trade School Kitchen will have created jobs for four women who have gone through Trade School Industries’ barista training course.
Trade School Industries aims to have the café entirely run by ex-inmates within five years.
“We’re developing it so that the women can work their way up and take on management roles,” Lauren says.
“We also hope to run training programs in other prisons and create more cafés throughout New Zealand.”
Trade School Kitchen
Naenae, Wellington, New Zealand 5044
Open Monday to Friday 6:30am to 4pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm