Brew up better meetings for inclusivity

B-corp certified Foreword Coffee Roasters expands its offerings for corporate events.

Joy in service: staff operating a mobile cart with Foreword Coffee Roasters.
Joy in service: staff operating a mobile cart with Foreword Coffee Roasters. Photo Credit: Foreword Coffee Roasters

Foreword Coffee Roasters started in 2017 as a social enterprise cafe to empower persons with disabilities, special needs and mental health conditions through employment opportunities. The business has expanded to seven locations, and was a recipient of the Enabling Mark (Platinum) Award in 2021, the highest accolade given to organisations for best practices and outcomes in disability-inclusive employment.

“Being B-Corp certified and a member of the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprises also lent us credibility in the work that we do,” said Nadi Chan, co-founder and director.

Corporate meeting trends

Chan added that the company is getting involved in larger events and corporate meeting planners are looking to provide a variety of F&B refreshments for their guests on top of their usual caterers. Sustainability has become an important factor for many.

Mobile coffee carts are popular among meeting planners. Besides light pastries, bottled coffee and non-coffee drinks (matcha, hojicha, and chocolate), and pre-packed in-house baked cookies are available too.

Said Chan: “Moving forward, we will be investing more resources to train up our baristas with disabilities to be competent to work at our mobile coffee carts, and to increase our capacity to take in more event bookings.

“We like to show the world that people with disabilities can be competent and provide quality coffee experiences. Hopefully, our presence during such corporate meetings can leave a positive impression for stakeholders to think about their diversity and inclusion efforts in their companies.”

Foreword Coffee Roasters’ Nadi Chan: promoting an inclusive workplace.
Foreword Coffee Roasters’ Nadi Chan: promoting an inclusive workplace. Photo Credit: Foreword Coffee Roasters

Working with hotels and venues

By working with event planners for external venue events, a typical lead time would be two to three months. This also allows for sufficient time to prepare the required documents for permits to access venues which are sometimes restricted to the public. “For larger-scale events with multiple stakeholders, we do work with them sometimes six to nine months before the event date,” said Chan.

A Return and Reuse initiative has been launched to collect used in-house glass bottles after events. These items will then be washed and sanitised for re-use.

Growing for good

With 31 employees, the company has goals to expand to provide more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

It opened its flagship neighbourhood cafe at Serangoon North (First Story Cafe), serving specialty coffee, pastries, and rice bowls. Its coffee roaster is also located there. The next step is to secure a central kitchen as a production site for cookies and bottled beverages. It will offer space for barista training and support more mobile coffee cart services for corporate events.