Have you ever read about those tiny cosy cafes in books and wondered whether a place like that actually exists? The answer is yes. That place does exist- and it’s Haven Coffee. It opened only a couple of months ago in July, though it has existed since 2018, catering at events and at stalls. The coffee, which is “Fairtrade, organic and specialty,” is the café’s own brand (Haven Coffee).

When I was speaking with the owner, Usman Khalid, he told me that what really makes a business stand out is having a social mission, even from a business standpoint. Recently, there has been great interest in the Earth and climate issues and, while sustainability is a part of it, the main social mission is to help refugees and dispel negative narratives about refugees and migrants, which is quite relevant today. This café is one of the first cafés in London run by refugees to assist refugees. Some things they do to achieve their goal are working with refugee artists, “organising art events (both visual and performance)” and they also offer paid barista training for refugees to help them become more specialised in order to make them “more employable” (note: during COVID, this has had to stop but they are looking to start it up again).

Some advice Mr. Khalid had for people wanting to start up their own businesses was to give it a “proper push” and “put in your 100%”. He said it was important to be “stubborn when it comes to failure” and not to be disheartened when things don’t go your way. Of course this doesn’t mean keep doing the same thing when you aren’t seeing positive results. “If it's not working, there’s no harm in changing your way.” It can actually be beneficial to change but it is crucial not to give up.

The bottom line is that Café Haven is a slice of heaven, and you should add it to your coffee bucket list. It opens at 6:30 am on weekdays, leaving you plenty of time to get a coffee or a hot chocolate before school. Not only is it a minority-owned small business with a potent social message and excellent coffee, but its prices are also extremely competitive -they don’t charge extra for non-dairy milk substitutions- and the loyalty card only needs you to buy 6 drinks before getting a free drink!

Learn more here