Refuge Coffee Company Trains, Employs Refugees

It's known as one of the most diverse cities in the country.  Residents speak an estimated 60 different languages, but they all get their coffee at the same place.  

Refuge Coffee Company opened for business earlier this year in Clarkston.  The non-profit is hard to miss--selling lattes out of a bright red food truck parked in a used car lot.  

"We don't have walls and we don't have doors and it's made us accessible to a community that if we were behind glass, we might not be able to engage," said Kitti Murray, who founded the company.  

The company is about much more than espresso shots.  It serves as a job-training program for refugees who relocate to Clarkston.  

"I'm lucky," said Leon Shombana, who moved to Clarkston nearly three years ago from Congo.  "I'm lucky to find this job."

Shombana used to work in a local chicken plant, but said his new job as a barista helps him improve his language skills.

Refuge also offers employees two to three hours each week of job training in a classroom setting.  Most importantly, it pays them a living wage while they train.  

"Living in Clarkston, this is a place of refugees and then we don't have a job, but this one can help them too," explained Shombana.

Currently, the company only has one food truck and three refugee employees.  They hope to open a second food truck in the next year to expand their job offerings.

To learn more about Refuge Coffee Company, visit their website at