Social Investment Something inspiring is brewing at Cape Town’s Gangstar Café

Something inspiring is brewing at Cape Town’s Gangstar Café

Former prisoners have channeled their energies into cups of coffee for patrons at these cafés

A café in Cape Town is helping former inmates get their lives back on track as part of a job-readiness programme, all while serving a hot cuppa to the public.

Gangstar Café is a social enterprise of The Message Trust, an organisation focused on uplifting at-risk youth across the Western Cape. But it is no ordinary coffee shop! Gangstar Café provides employment, hands-on training and support to ex-offenders and youth who want to leave behind a life of gangsterism and crime.

After serving time in jail for violent crimes, baristas at Gangstar Café in Mowbray are now in training as baristas proper, giving them purpose and an opportunity to provide for their families.

Their mission is to “create meaningful employment opportunities to prevent youth crime and gangsterism”.

They also have a delivery service:

Gangstar Café was born out of the prison work of The Message Trust South Africa, a registered NGO focused on breaking the cycle of poverty by focussing on youth at risk, both in and out of prison.

“We aim to provide excellent customer service and secure loyal customers who keep coming back.”

Gangstar Cafe

Trainees learn the importance of ensuring that processes and standards are followed and transferred into all areas of employment.

Former inmate Xola Dingiswayo told News24 how he started with not much knowledge about coffee at all, but worked his way up and is now a junior manager at the Mowbray branch.

He plans to better his craft so he may compete in barista competitions in 2021.  

There are two Gangstar Café branches in Cape Town, both run by five former inmates.

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