Search for Coffee Cranks on Google and the first hit listed for this Manchester based ethically minded catering crew states “Co-operatives Rock!”. A sentiment that The Meteor agrees with wholeheartedly, as we have just incorporated as a co-op this month.
Coffee Cranks Co-operative was founded back in 2013 with mobile coffee carts designed and built by their own members. You will find them and their distinctive carts around Manchester at different markets selling organic, co-op farmed coffee. One of the markets regularly treated to their aromatic beverages is the excellent Levenshulme Market.
Two years ago, the co-op grew to four member and seven none members. They opened up their very first veggie/vegan cafe based in Alexandra Park in Whalley Range. The café, which sells a range of Fairtrade products, also has it’s own little library, an exhibition space for local artists and hosts meetings and events for community groups. Sarah Revington, events manager at the Coffee Cranks Co-operative, answered The Meteor’s questions about why they set up their co-op and what the benefits and challenges are of being part of it:
Why did you set up the Coffee Cranks Co-operative?
We chose to be a co-op as in our minds it’s one of the best ways of ensuring we can make a real positive difference in our workplace, bring value to our customers and contribute to our community.
Have you faced any challenges as a co-op?
Since opening our cafe two years ago we have faced challenges. One being the very fast growth of our co-op and making sure all voices are heard and communicated effectively. Other challenges we have faced and overcome is getting our co-op values and message across to some new consumer’s when we opened the cafe. As Whalley Range has great community values we had big expectations to fill, opening a cafe in the park. However I feel we have successfully put our values across and have worked with the community in Whalley Range very well.
What is the best thing about being a member of Coffee Cranks Co-op?
For me personally it is being able to work in a place that holds the same working values as myself. Our co-op is proof that a positive workplace can be achieved without a strict hierarchy and overbearing management attitude that I have found in previous workplaces.
Why do you think Manchester should become a more co-operative city?
Manchester is such a hard working city and the region is the birthplace of the co-operative movement, which started in Rochdale. Along with being a big city Manchester is all about communities and I feel co-op’s are the best way to support workers and those communities.
How do you think a media co-op could serve Manchester’s network of co-ops, and its wider social solidarity economy?
Simply to connect other co-ops as there are so many. Creating a network for Manchester co-op’s will strengthen their voices, support each other and introduce each other to what everyone is doing.
Why should people in Manchester join your co-op or support their local co-ops?
With uncertainty in politics and the economy I would hope supporting others and their co-ops would bring people together during this time. Supporting co-ops creates a kind of security and strengthens voices that might not always be heard.
What plans or projects do you have coming up that you would like people to know about?
We are currently working on a new project called “Ride Together” aiming to combat social isolation in areas surrounding Alexandra Park. We want to build three passenger trikes locally and take elderly and mobility impaired people on piloted bike rides in our local area and beyond. You can read about our project on our website and if you can we would love your support.
This article is part of a series called ‘Co-operative Manchester’, which is investigating the past, present and future of co-operatives in the city and the surrounding region. The series aims to increase public understanding of the part co-operatives can play in building an ethical economy and stronger communities. It will also highlight the great work individual co-operative’s are doing across the city, and mark The Meteor becoming a media co-operative this year.
Feature image and in article images: Coffee Cranks