Refuge Coffee Co. opens shop today in downtown Atlanta

Refuge Coffee Co. employees outside the nonprofit's new location on Auburn Avenue.

Credit: Courtesy/Tom Griscom

Credit: Courtesy/Tom Griscom

Refuge Coffee Co., a Clarkston-based nonprofit known for providing job training to refugees, opened its first brick-and-mortar location Monday in downtown Atlanta.

The coffee shop is located in the historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood at 145 Auburn Ave., the longtime former home to the country's longest running African-American daily newspaper, the Atlanta Daily World.

To mark the opening, Refuge is planning to host a celebration on Friday, Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will feature free coffee, live music and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

The nonprofit began five years ago with the mission of providing employment and job training to refugees settled in Georgia, founder and CEO Kitti Murray said. In Clarkston — which is known for being welcoming to its large refugee population — Refuge serves customers from a truck in the center of town, with seating available nearby.

Murray is excited about expanding into a true brick-and-mortar space.

“We create a great, welcoming environment. That's what we want to do in the downtown shop, she said. “It will feel more like a coffee shop.”

The location will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Murray said.

Credit: TOM GRISCOM

Credit: TOM GRISCOM

The nonprofit will continue its mission of employing refugees as baristas at the Sweet Auburn location and engaging them in a yearlong job training program, Murray said. At the Clarkston location, Refuge has trained a total of 30 people from 12 different countries.

The Sweet Auburn neighborhood, known for its history and role in the civil rights movement, fits well with the mission of the coffee shop, Murray said.

Refuge currently operates out of trucks in Clarkston. CONTRIBUTED BY SEAN SHERIDAN PHOTOS

“It feels like home down here,” she said. “This whole mission to welcome everybody is a big part of what we do, and everybody on our team embraces that.”

The historic building used to house the second location for Condesa Coffee. Condesa’s lease was up and the company went back to having just one location, which is located in Old Fourth Ward, Murray said.

The Atlanta Daily World operated out of the location from the 1940s until 2008, when the tornado that tore through downtown Atlanta damaged it.

In 2015, the Auburn Avenue building reopened as a retail and apartment space. (PETE CORSON / pcorson@ajc.com)

Wouldn't you like to support our strong journalism? Your subscription helps us cover your communities in a way that no one else can. Visit https://subscribe.ajc.com/hyperlocal or call 404-526-7988 to begin or renew your subscription.

In Other News