Working With Youth at Humphreys Street in Nashville

Humphreys Street provides job training and outreach to young folks in South Nashville, teaching them how to roast, customer service skills, and how to run a business.


Photos courtesy of Humphreys Street

In 2008, Brian and Courtney Hicks began roasting coffee in the basement of an abandoned church. Now, 10 years later, they’ve opened their first retail coffee shop in the very space they began their coffee journey. They launched the new business in early June in Nashville, Tenn., but they didn’t do it alone.

“I’m really excited to work at the Humphreys Street Coffee Shop. I feel like it’s the next step in my life & I’m ready to take it.” – D’andre Daniels, 18 years old – Barista at Humphreys Street Coffee Shop (Pictured right with Cooper Damron tasting espresso)

Humphreys Street (aptly named for the street its on) has always been dedicated to their community. They began with a vision of employing young people in their neighborhood and providing top-to-bottom job training, from roasting coffee to customer service training. “Humphreys Street Coffee exists to employ and empower youth in South Nashville,” says Cailey Damron of Humphreys. The business, which operates as a social enterprise under their umbrella nonprofit, Harvest Hands Community Development, employs 16 students every year, and their education goes beyond coffee—students go on college tours, are provided with mentors, and are guided through opportunities like scholarships and higher-education options.

“I’m excited to learn different coffee techniques and to be able to serve coffee to people daily,” says Nikia Lee, a 15-year-old barista at Humphreys Street Coffee. Opening their retail space will allow Humphreys to increase the number of students they hire.

Humphreys’ first student was Ruben Torres, who learned to roast side-by-side with Brian. They both went to Idaho to learn to roast from Steve Diedrich (who was the longtime owner of Diedrich Roasters), and now, 10 years later, Ruben runs the roasting room and does all the training for the class of students that enter Humphreys every year.

“I’m really excited about the opening of the coffee shop because it will mean more roasting and more people will be able to taste my coffee,” says Kevonte Daniels, 17, a Humphreys Street Coffee Junior Roaster.

Humphreys has been providing coffee wholesale to customers around Nashville over the last 10 years, and expanding their retail space will allow more folks to enjoy their coffee. The space will have both an indoor and outdoor seating area for patrons to enjoy, and it will feature a full espresso and drip coffee program. “It has been a dream of ours since we started,” says Ruben about opening their retail space. “I’m excited to help create a space where we can showcase our products and our mission with the same care and attention to detail that show to our students daily.”

Zeinabu Fukala learns about espresso extraction at Humphreys.

The opening of their retail space will also allow Humphreys to double the amount of students they can take on by creating more jobs and opportunities over the next three years. The retail space will also create opportunities for their current cohort of trainees to find jobs. “We’re so excited for the jobs that the coffee shop will create,” shares Cooper Damron, general manager at Humphreys Street. “Someone like D’andre, who has been with Humphreys Street for several years and has put in work in the production facility, can now come work for us as a barista at the coffee shop. Looking even further into the future, the goal is that after working at our coffee shop, our student baristas will be skilled and can have the experience necessary to work in other coffee shops or cafés in town.”

Humphreys Street is located at 155 B Old Hermitage Avenue in Nashville. If you can’t make it to their store, you can check them out at their online store.

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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