500Cups Social Enterprise Project

If you visit Palmerston Road today and then on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th you’ll no doubt see the #500Cups project in action…and maybe pick up a free cup of coffee. The project is part of a social enterprise set up by Pravin Isram and James Cartwright (former owner of the Peace Cafe in Castle Road) that is exploring different ways of putting on events at different times of the day that do not involve alcohol. We spoke with Prav and found out more about the this particular project:

What inspired you to give away 500 cups of coffee before Christmas?
When UnLtd awarded us with funding they connected us to a charity that set up this coffee shop in Shoreditch (Paper and Cup). There’s a lot of overlap between what they do currently in the day and what we want to do into the night. So I went to talk with them and it turned out that one Xmas (before they started the cafe) they asked a church for a power cable and sold filter coffee outside with some volunteers and fairy lights. I had just bought a commercial coffee machine for this venture and after doing a group brainstorming ‘Action Learning Sets’ at the SSE thought why don’t we just try and do something similar – but instead give away 500 cups of coffee in the spirit of Christmas and get others to donate/contribute to help make it happen.

It would be a fun thing to do, get people thinking a bit more about altruism over the festive period and it would raise some awareness of what we’re doing.

Is this part of a larger project? If so, what?
Yes, the larger project is initially our running this series of pop-up places to go at night across the city in 2014. The hope is that this will be sustainable that could turn into something more permanent. The pop-ups will be places to go at night that have a great atmosphere, an affordable healthy offering and are alcohol free. At its heart, our project aims to help those affected by drugs and alcohol to develop skills and confidence.

We’re certainly influenced by places like Paper and Cup and the Brink in Liverpool, although how this will look in reality is something we’re thinking about a lot. We hope that while we are giving away 500 cups of coffee we get to hear from people in Portsmouth and they can give us their feedback and thoughts.

Who has helped you make this event possible?
We have been donated some money from two anonymous donations, The Society of St James and 6kg of coffee has been donated from Qualitasse, this is a company that I did my City and Guilds in Barista Skills with recently and also helped me get set up with a coffee machine. 1kg of Coffee has been donated from Hill Station – a community cafe in New Cross run by Students from the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

St Jude’s Church for being kind enough to let us run a power cable outside of the church onto Kent Road/Palmerston Road so we can do this. Errand Jervis have kindly printed some discounted xmas cards for us too. Finally UnLtd and the School for Social Entrepreneurs in London

Is this an example of how Social Enterprises can work?
For me this is an example of how a group of people working together can do something good, make people stop and think and have a bit of fun in the process. It’s an example of how Social Enterprises could work…but for us personally – to really have social impact – social enterprises need to be good businesses that are sustainable. Our pop-ups in 2014 set out to do this.

Be sure to visit Palmerston Road for your free cup, also if you tweet or Instagram they would really like it if you could use the #500Cups hashtag so they can see what you think about the coffee and the project.



  1. Prav

    20 December

    Thanks for the write up 😀

    some links for those that want to follow us:


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