I give up my job as a lawyer after I realized I may assist extra folks by opening a bar

  • Whereas working as a lawyer, Madeline Chan realized that a lot of her colleagues had been avid espresso drinkers.
  • Chan labored with refugees in Thailand earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic pressured her to return house to Singapore.
  • Wanting to proceed serving to refugees remotely, Chan give up her job to open her personal espresso store.

This retold essay relies on a dialog with Madeline Chan, 29, proprietor of Mad Roaster in Singapore. It has been edited for size and readability.

As ironic because it sounds, I wasn’t a espresso drinker till I opened my first espresso stall in 2020.

In reality, I by no means imagined that I used to be my very own boss. Whilst a lawyer, being a accomplice in a legislation agency has by no means been a objective of mine because of the stress and large obligations that the accomplice job entails.

After graduating from the London Faculty of Economics and Political Science with a Bachelor of Legal guidelines in 2015, I educated in legislation and acquired a job at a high litigation agency in Singapore.

For 4 years I labored as a litigator managing industrial disputes of multinational firms.

However as somebody who started a authorized journey with a need to assist folks, I felt I may have achieved extra by serving to those that could not afford to have somebody by their facet. Large firms have already got groups of legal professionals on their payroll.

Madeline Chan

Madeline Chan labored as a litigator dealing with industrial disputes for 4 years.

Madeline Chan

So I appeared for a unique route and located my place as a refugee standing dedication lawyer in Bangkok, Thailand, the place I helped displaced folks apply for refugee standing on the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees.

The work was fulfilling, as I noticed success tales when appeals I had labored on had been accepted or after I took somebody to a protected nation.

Nonetheless, it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient for me.

I rapidly realized how getting refugee standing wasn’t the joyful ending I believed it was. The folks I’ve helped nonetheless had nothing, cannot discover a job and even pay the hire, and are resigned to being eternally depending on assist.

They wanted a livelihood, which I noticed as a extra sustainable means to assist them.

This was one space the place merely donating cash wouldn’t have been sufficient, as charitable donations typically go to assist and I had seen how help was distributed. I had seen refugees lined up for hours to reveal how needy or determined they had been and nonetheless confronted the danger of being pushed again. Counting on help was a painful and unsure lifestyle.

And so I began in search of methods to create livelihood alternatives for refugees.

handmade stuff

Whereas significant and delightful, artwork and handmade items do not promote in addition to espresso.

Madeline Chan

I had a good friend who reworked refugee artifacts into on a regular basis objects like laptop computer baggage to promote at flea markets, however this technique had main limitations.

There are few laptop computer baggage we are able to purchase and there’ll come a day when gross sales can be inadequate to satisfy the recurring wants of refugees. I wished a greater answer.

Having labored within the company world, I bear in mind espresso being the commodity many workplace staff would purchase regularly with out a second thought.

Utilizing espresso as a way of making livelihoods for refugees appeared like your best option. However there was nonetheless one drawback I needed to cope with.

I knew nothing about espresso, not to mention making it.

warm milk

To realize coffee-making expertise, Chan labored without spending a dime at a restaurant in Bangkok after work on daily basis.

Madeline Chan

So I made a decision to take it and grasp the craft whereas in Bangkok. Since I did not communicate Thai, I needed to knock on the door of virtually each cafe close by till a store greeted me.

For 3 months, I discovered the rudiments of working a café and coffee-making strategies by working without spending a dime on the café till 10 within the night, after ending my work as a lawyer at 5.

However then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Safety restrictions meant I needed to return to Singapore in 2020.

I nonetheless wished to proceed working with refugees, however being abroad, it was not possible for me to proceed doing in order a lawyer.

This was the right alternative for me to start out my very own espresso store enterprise, Mad Roaster “Mad” is my nickname rising up.

With the cash I had saved up after I was nonetheless working in litigation, I invested $20,000 to $30,000 in Mad Roaster.

crazy roaster

Mad Roaster has opened its first stall on the Amoy Road Meals Heart in Singapore.

Madeline Chan

With the trade price and excessive buying energy in Singapore, the cash from promoting cups of espresso on daily basis means loads to refugees in Thailand.

Incorporating this with the concept of ​​creating livelihoods for refugees, I made a decision to fee them with colourful stickers that might go on each cup of espresso.

The 11 refugees Mad Roaster presently works with are tasked with coloring 300 sticker labels, every for a set worth of 10 Thai Bhat. The stickers are printed in Bangkok after which shipped to Singapore after being coloured.

In a month, every refugee would obtain a wage of three,000 Thai Bhat, about $88, which is sufficient to cowl the common hire in suburban Bangkok. Within the months when gross sales are higher, we are able to fee extra stickers from them.

Due to our initiative, the price of packaging is as a lot as the price of elements for a few of our drinks, which is uncommon for many firms.

coloring stickers

Madeline Chan selected stickers as work for refugees who had restricted work expertise as they’d a decrease barrier to entry.

Madeline Chan

Making espresso is not the one ability I’ve discovered.

In my school days, I used to be already into beginner baking, however I had by no means baked bread earlier than.

However in Singapore’s hawker hubs open-air complexes with many espresso and bread meals stalls are sometimes served as a set.

So I began studying the best way to make brioche with no expertise or coaching.


The laminated brioche is a hybrid between a brioche and a croissant, combining the softness of a brioche and the buttery flaking of a croissant.

Madeline Chan

Fortunately, our hawker stall has began to get some common clients. We now have gone from sitting studying newspapers to watching folks stroll previous our store, generally even queuing outdoors our stall.

Following the success of our first store, we opened one other cafe about 4 miles away the place our bread making presently takes place.

As the top of a small enterprise with solely a handful of full-time workers, I rapidly needed to grow to be a jack of all trades.

On a typical working day after I was dashing to and from two retailers to ship espresso beans and bake bread, one way or the other one thing was at all times cropping up, from espresso machine breakdowns to a lacking workers member and I needed to give up. all to handle the issue.

For the reason that begin of my enterprise I’ve changed burnt wires, modified energy retailers, achieved the mathematics for logistics and launched into social media advertising. It typically looks like an infinite listing of duties.

crazy roaster

Mad Roaster’s bestseller is the Honey Butter Milk.

Madeline Chan

In a means, working as the top of two espresso outlets made me admire my earlier work as a lawyer slightly extra.

Once I was a accomplice, my thoughts was blown the second a case wrapped up. However now, proudly owning a enterprise means my thoughts is at all times on the go, I am consistently serious about work-related points that come up all through the day.

However I’ll by no means remorse my choice to start out all of this.

For the 11 refugees, and presumably extra sooner or later, they’ve an unprecedented stage of certainty and dignity in the way in which they maintain a roof over their heads. Mad Roaster is why.

We now have plans to broaden sooner or later, though we have now no concrete plans for now. When operations are extra secure, I plan to return to practising legislation whereas managing Mad Roaster.

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