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Esther-Hope Gibbs

At 14 years old, Esther secured her first job in a local café. Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of arabica, robusta and liberica, she’s been hooked on coffee ever since.

Over the course of her 10-year career, she’s worked full-time in coffee shops, in management positions and as a director and head of coffee at Manumit Coffee Roastery.

It was in this latest role where she began to develop a special relationship with Cardiff Business School.

As Esther recalls: “We first met Rachel Ashworth and Jean Jenkins in 2017 when they came to visit our roastery to find out more about our business.

“Since then, we’ve had a strong connection both in a business and an ethical sense.”

Dignity and hope

Manumit Coffee is a social business that offers dignity and hope to survivors of modern slavery through training and employment.

Their coffee is roasted by men and women who have suffered horrendous exploitation at the hands of traffickers and modern slave traders but are now rebuilding their lives.

At their Cardiff-based roastery they produce excellent coffee that combats modern slavery on 3 levels:

  • Sourcing speciality coffee beans from ethical, slavery free suppliers.
  • Training and employing survivors of modern slavery as coffee roasters.
  • Investing all profits in local and international anti-slavery projects.

Over the last three years, Esther has put her professional and academic expertise into practice by running workshops and giving talks on modern slavery, social enterprises, and supply chains in the School.

Working closely with Dr Carolyn Strong, she also challenged undergraduates on the School’s BSc Business Management (Marketing) to create a sample pack to send to coffee shops and office spaces with information about Manumit.

Though she remains involved with Manumit as they implement some of the strategies developed by Cardiff Business School’s students, 2019 saw Esther embark on a new venture - Hope Espresso.

Deploying her skills as an AST trainer, a licensed Q Grader and SCA certified barista, in brewing, roasting and sensory coffee skills, Esther’s social enterprise aims to is to connect people through the coffee industry, from crop to cup.

“Coffee should be a product that empowers people all the way through the supply chain and no-one is exploited, it should be given that farmers are paid enough to not only cover costs and living costs, but make a profit too, this gives me a unique and anthropological perspective on coffee training.”

Esther was nominated by Dr Carolyn Strong.