Pausa Café is an organisation whose founder, Marco Ferrero, was inspired by the Italian Slow Food movement to sell sustainable coffee and help improve employment prospects on both sides of the Atlantic.
Faced with falling coffee prices in the early 2000s and unfair trade which left farmers in poverty, Ferrero set up a direct supply chain for coffee beans, which provided farmers with a steady income. And he set up a co-operative in an Italian prison, where prisoners paid a small fee to join and were then guaranteed employment processing and packaging the coffee beans.
A decade later, Pausa Café has suppliers in Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and has set up two processing plants in Turin’s Lorusso e Cotugno prison and Saluzzo’s Rodolfo Morando prison. It has expanded its product line, and the prisoner co-operatives now also produce chocolate and craft beer, which is sold across Italy and online, and exported across Europe and to America.
As members of the co-operative, prisoners not only have guaranteed work while serving time but also afterwards, and they receive resettlement support as well as a share of the profits. They are also empowered by taking a role in the decision-making for the business, and can partake in their own rehabilitation – an example of public services acting “with” users, rather than acting “on” them.