America is a land of immigrants. It always has been, contrary to what this country’s virulent new strain ultra-nationalists and their “shut the door behind you” thinking would have you believe. What makes the USA’s grand experiment worthwhile is the idea that anyone can come here to make a better life for themselves and their families, across generations and decades, no matter where you happen to come from on the planet.
When immigrants arrive in the United States, this fresh crop of new Americans will not only need but want gainful employment. To this end, New York City’s Everyman Espresso is stepping up. Working in collaboration with Counter Culture and Refoodee—a non-profit that helps refugees and asylum seekers find food industry jobs—is training asylum grantees for work in the specialty coffee shops, with jobs waiting on the other side.
Created by Refoodee, the program officially kicked off on Saturday, June 6th, with four trainees who “have fled countries around the globe like Nigeria, Russia, and Venezuela not by choice but out of desperation for a safer community,” Everyman Espresso’s Sam Penix tells Sprudge. With the support of Refoodee and Counter Culture—the latter offering up their NYC training lab, coffee, and curriculum—Penix and Everyman’s Sam Lewontin have organized volunteers from the local barista community to teach small group sessions for the inaugural class.
After 20 hours of training, each individual will then find job placement at some of the best coffee shops in NYC, including Little Collins, Rex, Third Rail, and of course Everyman Espresso. Even in its nascence, the program has already gone national, with Los Angeles cafes Tactile and Roo helping to raise money for the course as retail fundraisers.
Penix had this to say:
How can we as retailers, roasters, and baristas effect positive change? This program is a good start, but it should not be limited to New York and LA. I’d like to invite people all over the world to join us in raising money to fund Refoodee’s training program and develop their own training programs.
Want to get involved? In honor of World Refugee Day on June 20th, Everyman Espresso, Counter Culture, and Refoodee have collaborated on a special-release box set featuring coffee from Burundi, Uganda, and Ethiopia. All the cafe partners will be brewing coffees from this box set the week of the 17th through the 23rd as part of their commitment “to raising cash to fund the training program, spreading the word about the growing refugee crisis, and how it effects the coffee supply chain.” The box set will be available for purchase at all above-mentioned cafes.
These actions from Everyman, Counter Culture, Refoodee and their collaborators show us yet again that the coffee community is willing to step up in the name of support and inclusivity. Wherever you come from in the world, you are welcome here.
All media provided by Everyman Espresso