Truck-refugeCaleb Goodrum from the non-profit Refuge Coffee Co. based out of Clarkston, Georgia, joins us on the podcast today to share how they’ve been using a coffee truck as a means for job creation, training, and commerce among the 2,500 refugees the U.N. helps to resettle in this area each year.

Clarkston, located outside of Atlanta, has been called “the most diverse square mile in the country” according to TIME magazine where over 700 ethnic groups are represented in a town of under 10,000 people. Many of these residents have been relocated to this town after fleeing their home countries due to violence. Once these refugees arrive in the United States, these individuals and famalies are provided with basic help including food and blankets, but not longer support that goes beyond basic survival and helping to thrive long-term through job skills or career training. As a result, these refugees are often take the low-pay, low-skills jobs that help provide enough money to survive, but little else.

Refuge Coffee Co. hopes to change this cycle and provide more options to new residents through training in the coffee industry. Currently, the non-profit has started out with a coffee truck to begin building their vision. But in the future there are plans to start a coffee shop, roasting operation, and maybe even expand into another truck due to demand for catering and movie set deliveries.

Quotes From The Show

The problem that a lot of refugees face is that they get over here. They have job skills, but they don’t necessarily translate into the U.S. job market. – Caleb Goodrum on why career training is so important. 

There are a lot of non-profits that are geared at that emergency… We’re trying to take it from there with our trainees and say What are your goals? What are your dreams? How can we help you execute that? – Caleb Goodrum explaining the role Refuge Coffee Co. plays in the non-profit support system.



What You’ll Learn

  • How catering to the film industry has become a surprisingly large part of Refuge Coffee Co.’s overall business.
  • A brief history of the Clarkston area including the different waves of immigrants that have migrated there including Vietnamese and Ethiopian people.
  • How the demographics of Clarkston have gone from 90% white / Caucasian to less than 15% in the past few decades due to the influx of refugees to the area.
  • Why the coffee industry specifically was selected by this non-profit.
  • How Refuge Coffee Co. found their first class of trainees for the program.
  • Why this non-profit is using the coffee business model in an effort to be self-reliant long term.
  • Why traditional food truck events haven’t been the most profitable vending location for their coffee truck.
  • Some of the unique advantages and challenges of operating a beverage truck.

Mentioned During the Show

Refuge Coffee Co. – Official website. Learn more about the vision and long-term goals of this important non-profit by visiting their website.

Safehouse Coffee Roasters – This is the coffee roaster (also a non-profit) that Refuge Coffee Co. uses to source it’s brew. They are based in Griffin, GA, and source responsibly grown coffee beans from places like Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador.

M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks – This is the food truck manufacturer Refuge Coffee Co. used to build their mobile coffee shop. Since business demand from the non-profits initial truck has been so strong Refuge Coffee Co. is already considering an expansion into a second vehicle.

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