BERKELEY, Calif. — The 1951 Coffee Company is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping refugees settle in California. It is named after the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, which first introduced guidelines to protect refugees.
When refugees arrive in California, they often have no resumes and little work experience. The 1951 Coffee Company, founded in 2015, has helped provide job training. Additionally, the shop educates locals about the many challenges that refugees face, including cultural shock.
The 1951 Coffee Company offers several opportunities to teach its customers about re
fugees. Next to the counter is a wall featuring the process that many refugees go through in order to become an American citizen. While customers drink their coffee and eat their pastries, they can also read about the long, arduous steps that refugees must take to enter and settle in a new country.
Many of 1951 Coffee’s customers support the company’s efforts to aid refugees. Cathy Lee is a returning customer, and calls the coffee shop a “perfect storm.” Its efforts to help refugees acclimate to their new life and culture, she says, is “amazing” and “very unique.”
Another customer, Joyce Ting, says that she goes to the coffee shop once or twice a month. She said the mission of the shop is “really awesome,” and that “anyone that believes in something and does something about it” is good.
She also said that the biggest impact that the coffee shop has is not particularly enormous, as it is a small company, but the “meaningful impact on individual people” it has made is just as important.
Anna Pastor, a student at University of California, Berkeley, says that she goes to the coffee shop weekly. She said, “If I’m going to purchase coffee anyways, I might as well use my purchasing power for a social cause.”
The 1951 Coffee Company’s mission to support refugees and teach the surrounding community about the hardships experienced by refugees is admirable and will impact many more refugees in the future.