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A conversation with Rosslyn Coffee

Rosslyn Coffee is “the not-so-best-kept-secret of the City of London”, according to the Financial Times. Critically acclaimed, and one of two speciality coffee shops in the City of London accredited as a London Living Wage Employer, we spoke to them about their business, how it’s been affected by the pandemic, and their passion for the Living Wage.

Tell us about Rosslyn Coffee.

Rosslyn launched in 2018. We represent a coming together of hospitality styles from Ireland and Australia – the homes of our founders, James and Mat. We’re a fusion of all the attention to detail and high standards of an Australian Café with the warmth and community of an Irish Pub. Our name actually originates from Rosslyn Street in West Melbourne, where James first learned to make coffee and a short drive from where Mat grew up. In Scottish Gaelic, ‘Ross’ translates to headland and pink, while ‘Lyn’ means waterfall. That’s why you’ll notice a lot of pink and cascading that runs through our imagery and branding.

Why do you pay the real Living Wage?

Paying the Living Wage is a part of who we are. We believe it’s important to take care of our team who take such good care of our customers, and that includes paying them a fair Living Wage in one of the most expensive cities in the world. The people who work with us are skilled, capable people and they want to do a good job. As employers, it’s down to us to remove any barriers that might get in the way of them achieving that. One of those barriers is low standard of living. We pay a real Living Wage to ensure that our team can live in a nice part of London, eat decent food and come to work energised and happy. That way, they’re in the best mindset they can be in when they come to serve our guests.

What kind of impact has paying our rate had on Rosslyn?

Retention is one of the key things it does for us. For us, our team are our most valued asset and we have never lost an employee to a similar business to ourselves in the UK. The only time that employees moved away is because they’ve gone overseas or to work in a different industry. On the flip slide, we’ve have had employees move to us from other coffee shops. We don’t want to be taking other peoples’ team members, but they’re moving to us for a reason! We provide a better working environment and we pay a better wage. Not only does that mean that we attract a higher standard of employee, but it means we’re able to keep them with us.

Paying the Living Wage has also made the relationship between our team and our managers really positive. The fact that we pay them more demonstrates to our team that we value what they do. It’s a very basic way of saying to our team “we value you, we value your time and we value what you contribute to our business”. You show respect to your team in a lot of different ways, but paying a Living Wage is a fundamental and tangible way of doing so. If you’re paying your team considerably lower than the Living Wage in London, then it undermines everything else you’re doing. The Living Wage is the foundation on which we build the relationship with our staff.

The hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. How has COVID impacted your business? Where do you think the sector will go from here?

It’s been a struggle and a challenge. It’s felt like every time you open your phone it’s giving new information as to the next challenges coming your way. We are struggling our way through this, like every business, but we’ll get through it.

Paying the Living Wage is something we’ve maintained throughout – we haven’t reduced people’s wages below it because of the pandemic. Like I said at the start, it’s part of who we are, and it’s only going to become more important after this COVID period. People appear to be more and more conscious of the businesses they’re supporting. We make our commitment to paying it prominent in our café, and it’s something we talk about in our social media channels as well. The reality is that the coffee we serve is not that much more expensive than the High Street chains, but the value of the coffee is considerably higher: we pay a Living Wage to our team and we purchase the coffee from our farmers at a higher price point. Customers know that the team who are serving them are being taken care of – at a minimum being paid a Living Wage – and they like that about us.

What would you say to another company working in the hospitality sector who is thinking of becoming a Living Wage Employer?

I would say that our business is – thankfully – a successful business. But it’s not the case that we pay the Living Wage because we’re a successful business. I think it’s more the case that we’re a successful business because we pay the real Living Wage.

You can visit Rosslyn Coffee at their cafe on Queen Victoria Street, or order their coffee online

6th May 2021
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