Huddersfield businessman uses the power of coffee to help local communities

Raj Beadle
-Credit: (Image: Ah! PR)

The UK operation of a world-renowned coffee brand is owned by a Yorkshire businessman who uses his position to help charities.

Gaggia coffee machines were first invented in Milan in the late 1930s, revolutionising the way coffee was made and setting new stylish standards worldwide. The UK and Ireland operation for Gaggia domestic coffee machines runs from Elland in West Yorkshire - headed up by managing director Raj Beadle - and his company sells around 6,000 machines every year while supporting several charities.

Raj uses the power of coffee to help many charities, donating machines and providing free barista training to several good causes as well as raising thousands of pounds every year.

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Raj has lived in the Edgerton area of Huddersfield for many years and so the company regularly donates to the town’s Welcome Centre food bank and Huddersfield Mission where Raj used to be a trustee, along with international charity Christians Against Poverty and the Leeds-based Little Sisters of the Poor which runs a care home for the elderly.

He said: “I first knew about them when two nuns knocked on our door asking for donations. I was so surprised to see them standing there we’ve helped them ever since.”

Huddersfield Mission helps people struggling with complex needs such as homelessness, mental health and addiction. Gaggia UK donated a commercial coffee machine and provided the charity with barista training.

Raj has been a member of Lindley Methodist Church in Huddersfield for a long time which has supported a charity called the Riziki children’s organisation based in Nakuru, Kenya, for 15 years. Riziki rescues young children, usually orphans, trying to survive by scavenging on a rubbish tip just outside the city.

Raj has been helping charities in the area
Raj has been helping charities in the area -Credit:Ah! PR

They then live in dormitories at the organisation’s centre where they grow their own food and vegetables and Riziki also pays school fees so the children can go to a nearby school to help them on their way to a better life. The schooling can lead into higher education, including universities.

The charity costs £50,000 a year to run and a series of church events culminating in a fundraising concert at Lindley Methodist Church in May has raised almost £5,000, This included Raj raffling off a gold-coloured coffee machine and Gaggia UK sponsoring the concert and making donations to the music groups involved. Raj hosts and sponsors a coffee morning in the church on the third Friday of every month from 10am to 12 noon to raise even more for Riziki, with the mornings expanding into crafts and charity stall events.

Gaggia UK has also sponsored Cleckheaton Cricket Club for many years – it even has its own Gaggia scoreboard – and a youth team at Greetland Football Club. Gaggia staff are involved in both these organisations. In the past, Gaggia UK has been a major supporter for Macmillan Coffee Mornings and also helped the Prince’s Trust’s "Get Into" scheme providing free training for youngsters struggling to get into work or training, often because they come from deprived backgrounds. Gaggia not only trained them for two weeks with top baristas but took some on and one now runs her own business.

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Raj said: “I wish we could do something similar now as we could do it over Zoom online. People sometimes need a stepping stone in life and we would gladly help them.”

The Gaggia spirit, which began in the 1930s, continues as Raj’s team has a whole new way of customer service which saves people a fortune in an environmentally friendly way. It’s dubbed "forever customer care" because once people have bought a machine from Gaggia UK that endless customer care comes with it whatever the warranty.

The 11 ranges of Gaggia coffee machines are manufactured in Italy and can only be bought online via the company’s website or from it via Amazon under its Caffe Shop Ltd name.

The UK operation of Gaggia is owned by a Yorkshire businessman
The UK operation of Gaggia is owned by a Yorkshire businessman -Credit:Ah! PR

Raj said: “Like many people I’d never heard of Zoom until the pandemic lockdown in March 2020 but quickly realised we could use it to totally change the way the business operates.

“Sales of coffee machines actually went up during covid with people stuck at home but wanting a ‘real’ cup of coffee and if people got stuck working them or just had a question to ask they could contact us instantly on Zoom. It also gave me the idea to do barista training online. We had 25 people waiting to attend our courses but many jumped at the chance to do the training via Zoom during covid and that’s carried on ever since.

“People with Gaggia machines going back many years can contact us immediately on Zoom via our website and be speaking to an engineer within minutes to hopefully quickly solve their problem, with the engineer talking them through how to do it. We used to get around 1,500 machines in a year for service, upgrade or repair but that number has now been halved, saving customers lots of money and their machines needing to be packaged up and sent on expensive, often needless journeys back to us.”