The Clarkston-Based Nonprofit Coffee Company Focuses Its Ability to Serve Refugees, Connect Communities and Extend Welcome Across Atlanta
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — September 23, 2022 — Refuge Coffee is closing its Sweet Auburn location at 145 Auburn Ave., on Sept. 23, after almost three years serving the downtown neighborhood through shutdowns and other challenges.
The Refuge Coffee Sweet Auburn location — the organization’s second physical location — opened in 2020, one month prior to when nearby Georgia State University and all downtown Atlanta businesses shut down due to the pandemic. Although the lion’s share of the time was fraught with the challenges all businesses experienced during that season and following, there were plenty of celebrations and partnerships with many local merchants, artists, and community leaders along the way. This very difficult decision to leave a beloved place has come after much deliberation from Refuge Coffee leadership committed to choose hard things that maintain the health of the entire organization.
“From our first day in this ‘beloved community’ we have known we were in a special, welcoming place with a deep and meaningful history,” Refuge Coffee founder Kitti Murray said. “We are sad to go, but we leave having been truly blessed by our time here and hopeful for how this decision will positively affect our trainees, baristas and staff, as well as our mission to extend welcome across Atlanta.”
Throughout the pandemic, all barista trainees and employees remained on payroll, maintaining the nonprofit’s mission centered on employment and training for resettled refugees and immigrants. This was largely thanks to the generosity of donors and partnering organizations. The landlord of Sweet Auburn, as well as Refuge’s neighbor and friend, Gene Kansas, has provided continual support, and Refuge will remain in the area as the coffee partner for his culturally-based work space and events venue, Constellations.
“We love Refuge Coffee, and the opportunity to partner with them gave us a profound appreciation for the refugee crisis that catalyzed programming, volunteerism, and connection points. Refugees around the world represent hope and challenge and are the literal heart and soul of a substantially critical issue. Beyond great coffee, Refuge is about advocacy and leadership, and we’re committed to supporting the organization and their mission in Sweet Auburn, in Clarkston, and well beyond,” said Gene Kansas, the founder of Constellations.
Refuge Coffee is continuing to extend welcome across Atlanta at its Clarkston flagship location, at Refuge Midtown at the Woodruff Arts Center, and through its catering and events. Plans are continuing to open a physical location in downtown Norcross later this year.
Interviews and images are available by request. Please contact Jennifer Mbala-Nkanga at email@example.com or 770-363-4468.