Coffeeshops Changing Culture

| June 1, 2019

Coffeeshops seem to be the place where people find community nowadays.

It can be as simple as stopping in to grab a cup to go or settling in for a few hours’ work. Coffeeshops are places where people can meet and bond in a low-stakes environment while enjoying their favorite drink.

Recently, several groups decided to take this latest trend to the next level by combining coffee, community and inclusivity in their stores.

Through coffee, these businesses provide a chance for customers and employees to connect with people outside their normal circles. These places also provide jobs and training to often overlooked people.

Refuge Coffee in Clarkston, Georgia, has two main goals, according to a CNN article: to provide job training and English lessons for refugees, and to promote community between Georgian locals and their refugee neighbors.

The employees attend business classes and English classes alongside their training as baristas to help them in future employment. Regular interactions with customers—a combination of other refugees and born-and-raised locals—help the workers improve their English and build new relationships.

According to the article, owner Kitti Murray wanted to create a place where locals and refugees could form relationships together.

In Washington, D.C., Starbucks opened a new store within its franchise catered to the deaf community, according to the Washingtonian.

The facilities were built with visual accommodations in mind, and the majority of the employees are deaf. All the employees are fluent in sign language, according to the article.

The goal of the store is to be a “third place”—somewhere outside of home or work—for the deaf community to interact, according to the store’s manager.

Places like these show how coffeeshops can be about more than just a favorite beverage. They provide an opportunity to reach into marginalized communities. They allow you to get to know your neighbor—and share a cup of coffee with someone new.

Places where people can come as they are and feel welcomed are too few and far between. However, these businesses are setting an excellent example for what real neighborliness looks like today.