Tucked away on Brick Lane in East London’s trendy area of Shoreditch is a unique café locals know as Kahaila. What sets Kahaila apart from the immense coffee shop scene in London is something particularly special: the strong sense of community and charity they have created that surpasses coffee and cake. Changing the face of start-up businesses everywhere, the story and message of this non-profit café is one to savor.
What Kahaila Is
Kahaila, a mix of the Hebrew words “life” and “community,” first opened in 2012. Building relationships with customers was at the forefront of owner Paul Unsworth’s mind, but encouraging them to develop a relationship with God and brighter future was at the core of the café’s mission. That’s why Kahaila isn’t just a place to pick up a macchiato and sandwich on your lunch break; it’s a place where all people can congregate and belong — regardless of what they believe.
Kahaila is a coffee shop, church, charity and community. It’s more than your local Starbucks.
“A cafe is a great community space for all.
In this place, we build relationships and share life with each other.
For some, this is a place where they belong.
For others, it is a place to explore the Christian faith and spirituality.
For all, it is a place to enjoy great coffee and scrumptious cake.”
What Kahaila Does
Aside from being a coffee shop, Kahaila has created a presence in London over the years through the charitable Kahaila Women’s Projects, KWP. The three KWP were created to empower women across London who have faced disadvantages in their lives. It provides an environment where they can grow and walk a path that leads to restoration, ambition and employability through training, mentorship and love.
Established to empower young women in prison upon their release, Kahaila Reflex equips them with new skills, aspirations and hopes for the future. Aiming to reduce re-offending, women receive mentoring, pastoral support and outreach as they settle back into their homes. Building confidence, Kahaila Reflex offers a space for young women to reflect on their past while plan to build a brighter future.
The decadent treats at Kahaila (and countless other cafés in London) are a product of KWP’s Luminary Bakery. The bakery gives women from vulnerable backgrounds the opportunity to build a future. Through Luminary Bakery, women are given teaching, work experience and employment. Using baking as a tool to help women realize their dreams, the bakery hopes to end to cycles of abuse, prostitution, criminal activity and poverty for the women.
Opened in January 2016, Ella’s Home provides a safe and restorative space for women who have experienced sexual exploitation and trafficking. Each woman in the home works with a support worker to access medical care, counselling, legal assistance and even employment at Kahaila’s café. With a goal to establish confidence and stability, women are empowered to move beyond the home in time.
In addition to KWP, the café turns into a church in the evening as a place to ask questions, worship, learn and grow as a community of believers. Kahaila also hosts gatherings and small groups throughout the week.
What Kahaila Believes
Any profit made is given to support local community projects and other charitable causes, many of which are KWP. Kahaila strives to take an active role in addressing issues that affect people locally, nationally and beyond by allowing those to engage through Kahaila. Giving customers a place to relax and meet others at the cafe is just the basis of all that is possible through creating a community. Kahaila goes beyond the normal functionalities of coffee shops and strives to paint a bigger picture, one that includes a brighter tomorrow for all.
How You Can Help