1951 Coffee Company, a nonprofit organization that hires refugees to facilitate integration into the community, is opening a new location at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union on Aug. 13.
Situated on Channing Way, 1951 Coffee Company wanted to expand to a new location in order to be able to hire more refugees to become members of the company’s staff, according to its barista training recruitment coordinator, Shawnim Kashani. Now, the staff consists of 20 baristas.
“When we found out (that) the café space was available, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Rachel Taber, co-founder of 1951 Coffee Company, in an email. “We (are) very excited to work with UC Berkeley as they are an excellent partner in expanding our mission of promoting the well-being of the refugee community through job training and employment in the rapidly expanding coffee industry.”
Taber stated in an email that 1951 Coffee Company is already familiar with the UC Berkeley community, as it has participated in events on campus on multiple occasions. At the new location, new dishes will be added to the menu, provided by a refugee-run catering company, Old Damascus Fare.
All of the 1951 Coffee Company staff members have to complete the Oakland-based Barista Training Program, which has 150 graduates working in coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego. The refugees hired to work at the new location have undergone the two-week training program, according to a press release from the ASUC Student Union.
The company is currently doing on-site training during the soft opening period from Aug. 6 to Aug. 10 — drinks are served at a discount and the café is open for fewer hours during this time, according to an email from Taber.
Kashani said the mission of 1951 Coffee Company is to provide sustainable jobs to refugees and asylum-seekers and help them provide for their families until they can find other careers that they may be more passionate about.
In a press release Monday, the ASUC Student Union announced its excitement regarding 1951 Coffee Company opening a location on campus.
“We’re excited to welcome 1951 Coffee to the ASUC Student Union,” said Courtney Brousseau, campus senior and ASUC Student Union board chair, in the press release. “Their admirable social mission and quality coffee will be a wonderful addition to the space.”
Several UC Berkeley students expressed their support for the new location on campus. According to campus sophomore Alan Huang, the new location would be more convenient for him.
“We’re all really excited,” Kashani said. “It’s honestly such a wonderful feeling to be able to bring more people into what we consider to be a family.”