1951 Coffee Company expands to Downtown Berkeley BART plaza

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Berkeley’s 1951 Coffee Company will open a free-standing coffee kiosk in the Downtown Berkeley BART plaza in January 2019.

The organization’s co-founders Doug Hewitt and Rachel Taber announced on Monday that the 80-square-foot kiosk will be above ground and will serve 1951 Coffee roasts, espresso drinks and pastries from Third Culture Bakery.

Hewitt and Taber hope the kiosk will help expand their mission in supporting refugees. This upcoming opening of the kiosk follows the opening of a 1951 Coffee bar inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union this past summer and the 2017 opening of their flagship cafe on Channing Way.

“1951 Coffee is expanding to increase the opportunities that we are able (to) offer the refugee community,” Hewitt and Taber said in an email. “The Downtown Berkeley BART station is ideal because it allows us to have a footprint for the refugee community right at the center of activity, in a place that serves as a hub for access to the larger Bay Area.”

The 1951 Coffee Company is a nonprofit specialty coffee organization that employs individuals who have come through the United States’ formal refugee program, been granted asylum or possess special immigrant visas.

According to the organization’s press release, each employee has completed the organization’s barista training program. The program has about 100 graduates annually and each graduate has gone to work at cafes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego area. The cafes include 1951 Coffee Company, AKA Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Guerilla Cafe, Mazarine Coffee and Ritual Coffee Roasters.

The featured kiosk design was created by Montaag, a Berkeley-based design firm, and is similar to the 1951 Coffee Company’s flagship cafe design.

Hewitt and Taber said in an email that the 1951 Coffee Company’s model will be enhanced when they are able to provide jobs in various cafe environments.

“A mobile kiosk will come with its own unique challenges which will allow the staff to understand another important part of operations in the Specialty Coffee industry,” Hewitt and Taber said in an email.

According to the press release, the BART plaza location was chosen because the 1951 Coffee Company believes that this specific space is a welcoming and inclusive community and represents “the best of Berkeley.”

The press release also said about 20,000 commuters pass through the BART plaza daily and because of this, the kiosk will be able to better promote the well-being of the refugee community throughout the greater Bay Area.

“As we look to grow to new locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, being able to present the 1951 Coffee experience in many forms will prove important in our ability to take up new opportunities,” Hewitt and Taber said in an email. “Most importantly, still meeting the nuanced needs of the communities we will serve in the future.”

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.