Before founding 1951 Coffee Company with Rachel Taber, Doug Hewitt’s job as an employment specialist at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), included preparing refugees for job interviews. He repeatedly witnessed a disheartening pattern: on the way to the interview, the refugees would chat with him personably. “But when prospective employers started asking them questions, they would get nervous,” explains Hewitt. Digital barriers add even more challenges today, as most applications must be completed online. When it asks for previous job experience, the location can only be selected from a list of the 50 states.
Hewitt would discuss these concerns with Taber, a co-worker at IRC, over a cup of coffee. They began to envision a cafe where refugees could be trained and supported while gaining the experience that could further their work lives. They agreed that refugees and café seemed like a winning combination and 1951 Coffee Company was born.