Sunderland businesswoman launches new Cracked Bean Roastery, brewing up quality coffee while giving ex-offenders a pathway to employment

A new social enterprise roastery is brewing up quality coffee, while also providing a pathway to employment for ex-offenders.

Cracked Bean Roastery has been launched by Sunderland businesswoman Sam Dobson, who’s combined her passion for helping people out of the cycle of poverty with quality food and drink to launch the social enterprise.

Using beans from Brazil, Rwanda, India and China from specially-selected farmers that are paid a real wage and using social and ethical importers, her Cracked Bean beans are already used in a number of local coffee shops, such as Grinder as a guest espresso in their two sites, Diego’s Joint in Sunniside, Little Coffee Bean at Washington Leisure Centre and Smugglers in Pallion.

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Sam has already undertaken extensive roastery and barista training to launch the first phase of the business. Now, she’s launching the next phase which is to give people barista training with a view to them gaining employment in the hospitality industry.

Cracked Bean Roastery founder Sam Dobson's new social enterprise to help people gain employment.

Speaking about how Cracked Bean came about, Sam said: “I’ve always had a passion for coffee. I grew up in a family that started drinking speciality coffee donkeys ago, it’s part of the culture of our family.

"My professional background was working for Oasis Community Housing as an employability coach, working with people such as street homeless, people with addictions and those who’d been through the criminal justice system. I also helped set up the Sunderland homeless drop in centre.

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“I always wanted to know their backstory, there’s always a reason why people end up in these situations.

“I’ve struggled with my own mental health over the years, and I know just how crippling it can be. So I decided to merge my two passions, my dream has always been to help people through a social enterprise, to get them nearer to the job market and to gain financial independence."

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The new Smugglers coffee shop on St Luke's Terrace, Pallion, stocks Sam's coffee

Working alongside the probation service, drug and alcohol services, the Job Centre and others, Sam will be working with referrals to undertake barista training with her at the Cracked Bean base at the Hope Family Church in Oxclose, Washington, using her Golden Roasters roastery which has been imported from Turkey.

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People will also be able to self refer through her website.

Sam said: “Even if people don’t get a job directly from the training, I’ll be helping them access other services. The more services they can access, the more chance they have of moving out of poverty, which is a cyclical trap. The whole ethos of Cracked Bean Roastery is to help people in a supportive, work-based environment.”

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As well as offering wholesale coffee for businesses, Sam sells her beans and coffee blends through her website direct to the public at

People will receive roastery and barista training
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Sam says the city has really upped its game in recent years when it comes to speciality coffees.

"I’ve lived in Sunderland for 12 years now and in that time there’s been a real rise in quality independents and I love hearing the stories behind their brands,” she said.

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All profits through Cracked Bean coffee sales are reinvested back into the business and, most importantly, into the people Sam trains.

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