Hi, I’m Alex
I spent 13 years serving in the Army and was medically discharged due to injuries sustained in service.
During my discharge, I found myself in a pretty bad place- my career had been cut short, my life was now upside down and i was still suffering from deteriorating mental health and physical disabilities.
My injuries left me struggling to manage basic day-to-day living and self-care. I was isolateed and felt as though I had been cast aside and was no longer useful, almost like i was just left to it and having fend for myself.
I knew I needed help and eventually approached an Armed Forces charity called, Shoulder to Soldier. They helped me get back on my feet and get myself back out into the world. Suffering with chronic pain, fatigue and reduced mobility, i couldn't really help with most of the jobs at the allotment so the Shoulder to Soldier team roped me into building and planting a living wall.
It was designed with people like me in mind and seeing the different flowers bloom over time felt really good. I could see the difference that i was making and it felt good to have something to show at the end of it.
By helping others, i was able to help myself
I received help when I needed it most and wanted to repay the kindness and pay it forward to someone else in need. I attended the MHFA England; Mental Health First Aid course and volunteered to become a part time caseworker. Helping others helped me to help myself. It was great, i had a purpose again and started making a difference when people needed it the most. Eventually, i turned my focus to the future and ultimately coffee.
The origins of The.Coffee.Collective.
I started attending courses from the SCA Coffee Skills Program working on a Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) Diploma. Studying all things coffee allowed me to keep my mind occupied and make steps in the right direction. It became a bit of an escape to go into the kitchen and spend some time in my own world, experimenting and making a brew.
I love manually brewing my coffee and going back to basics, hand grinding my beans and doing it all myself. Each brewing method is different and there is a strange satisfaction which comes from making decent coffee by hand. It's almost like you have worked for it so appreciate it more.
Becoming an entrepreneur
I’d like to say it was easy but setting up my own company hasn’t been without its challenges. My past life serving in the Royal Engineers as Bomb Disposal has helped me face these entrepreneurial challenges though. For example, It taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable and to be ready for anything.
The Sage Military Tycoon program also helped a great deal. It allowed us to make connections within the industry and make the first steps into the world of coffee.
Paying it forward
I strongly believe in making a difference, setting a positive example for those around me which means doing what I can to make the place better for everyone.
That’s why The.Coffee.Collective. is involved in the community and tries to give back where we can, we try to do our part and help others who may be in need.
Looking to the future
In the long run, my goal for The.Coffee.Collective. is a non-profit, Community Interest Company (CIC). We'd provide a communal space with great tasting coffee and fresh, healthy food. So groups in the community have a space to meet for social events, support groups and even training/education. In establishing this, we could help the wider community in more ways than one and help the local population thrive. That would be a dream come true, to make a difference on a bigger scale.
But for now, the next steps are to take The.Coffee.Collective. to the streets in Pipin- Our Vintage 1972 Citroen H Van.
Maybe one day you’ll see us whizzing past or parked up dishing out the best coffee for miles.