1951 Coffee Wins Grant, Expands Training Program

1951 Coffee in Berkeley, Calif., is a recipient of the Opportunity For All grant from the Starbucks Foundation, which will expand their training programs and help 1951 Coffee grow into new cities.


Photos courtesy of 1951 Coffee.

Earlier this month, 1951 Coffee was awarded a grant under the Opportunity for All program run by the Starbucks Foundation. 1951 Coffee is a coffee shop and nonprofit training and barista education center in Berkeley, Calif., and founders Rachel Taber and Doug Hewitt are dedicated to teaching refugees baristas skills and providing job placement. 1951 Coffee was one of 41 organizations chosen to receive the Starbucks Foundation grant, which began this year in an effort to promote organizations that foster employee readiness for military personnel, youth, and refugees. The $63,000 will go towards expanding 1951 Coffee’s barista training program.

1951 Coffee provides training and job placement for refugees. The grant from the Starbucks Foundation will allow 1951 to expand its barista training program.

Started in 2015, 1951 Coffee has graduated 51 refugees, asylum seekers and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders in the San Francisco Bay Area. With this grant, Rachel and Doug hope to hold barista training classes at least once a month and graduate 85 baristas in the next year. However, 1951 Coffee baristas are already being positively affected by the grant. “We were able to see immediate effects of this grant, as the expansion of the barista training program has allowed us to offer promotions and growth within our café,” shares Rachel. “For example, our senior barista, Meg, was recently promoted to program instructor. This then opens up the opportunity for other staff to move into new roles. We look forward to continuing to build on our staff’s own development at 1951 Coffee.”

1951 Coffee was founded by Rachel Taber (third from left) and Doug Hewitt (second from right). Along with a training program, the company also operates a retail space in Berkeley, Calif.

Many graduates of the training program have been placed in coffee shops all over the East Bay, including Blue Bottle Coffee and Mazarine Coffee. Along with opening up opportunities for baristas in their own retail location in Berkeley, 1951 Coffee will also use the grant to launch new training programs in other major cities. “With the ability to broaden our outreach and serve a larger number of people in the refugee community, we are excited to go to San Diego and launch a pilot of the training program,” Doug shares. “We’ve been in talks with a few organizations down there and are looking to secure a location for the training café, as well as grow our employment partners in Southern California.”

The grant will allow 1951 to expand its training program to San Diego and work with a larger network of refugees and potential job placement partners.

The barista training program 1951 Coffee provides is immersive, hands-on, and completely free. So far, Rachel and Doug have hosted nine two-week classes, and this grant will help expand the number of classes and participants. The classes aren’t just limited to barista skills, but also cover customer service fundamentals and provide newly arrived refugees with a network of coffee professionals and resources to rely on. Likewise, the retail café aims to educate the public about refugee issues and create a space where people can engage directly with refugees and learn more about their needs.

1951 Coffee provides amazing opportunities to refugees, but they also aim to educate the public and spark conversations about refugees and the issues they face.

Rachel and Doug are committed to helping refugees because of the lack of opportunities they are currently provided. “Refugees possess exceptional qualities and determination in creating a new life, but there are few options for immediate placement when they don’t have local references,” Rachel says. “The specified training connects refugees to countless career opportunities, and it also welcomes them into the local coffee shop, a welcoming place where communities thrive.”

For more on 1951 Coffee, visit the nonprofit’s website here.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at ashley@baristamagazine.com.