This Coffee Shop Is Staffed Entirely by Refugees

1951 Coffee Company, a coffee shop in Berkeley, California, is staffed by people who have fled wars in tumultuous countries

"I feel like 1951 Coffee is my second family," one refugee said about her new job.

While the refugee crisis is being debated at high-level government offices in First World countries around the globe, one cafe is quietly doing its duty to give refugees a second chance. 1951 Coffee Company is a non-profit coffee shop in Berkeley, California, that just opened in January and is staffed entirely by refugees. The employees come from war-torn countries like Syria, Eritrea, Uganda, Afghanistan, Iran, Bhutan, and Myanmar, and many of them have only been in the country for two months, according to Fast Coexist.

“There are many challenges, but I like the community here,” an employee named Rama told Fast Coexist. "I feel like 1951 Coffee is my second family.”

1951 Coffee Company has received rave reviews since it opened earlier this year, with one review complimenting the “warm, friendly, hardworking staff” and another excited both by their amazing chai lattes and educational space.

Founders Rachel Taber and Doug Hewitt came up with the idea of the 1951 Coffee Company after meeting at the International Rescue Committee. One of the hardest parts of making it as a refugee after finding your way to welcoming shores is getting a job.

"We've been a social enterprise from the beginning," Taber told Fast Coexist.


The refugees at 1951 not only work as baristas, but they also receive job training which they can use to go on to other parts of the coffee industry. The café offers networking connections to large tech companies in the Silicon Valley area who want to hire baristas for their large corporate offices.