Students looking to get their morning caffeine fix will soon have another option as Light House Coffee plans to open near campus this fall.
Light House Coffee aims to actively serve others through direct trade sourcing and through hiring area refugees.
The speciality coffee shop will serve coffee, tea and other beverages, along with light meal options, co-founder Amber Elworth said via email.
Husband and wife duo Amber and Steve Elworth are combining their current professional experiences to fulfill their dream of opening their own coffee shop — a dream they shared even before getting married.
Amber currently works with refugees at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge in the Refugee Resettlement department. After teaching English to them for more than a year, Amber said she decided to help change the “cyclical patterns” she saw developing.
“After lots of prayer and advice seeking, it seemed like it was time to pursue the idea of merging a need and a dream,” Amber said.
Steve, on the other hand, was able to put his degree in finance to good use, helping with the financial decisions involved in opening the business.
While a coffee shop may not be what first comes to mind for helping refugees in the Baton Rouge community, the workplace skills offered to employees will help them as they acclimate to living in a new country.
“Working at a coffee shop, you have opportunities to learn customer service, multi-tasking, food and beverage preparation, efficiency, time management and lots of other skills,” Amber said. “We hope that working at Light House will be one of the first steps for a displaced person in their career journey.”
However, Light House Coffee’s skill training will not simply end when the store flips its sign and closes for the day.
“We want to take [the] time and energy, on top of running the coffee shop, to pour into our employees to prepare them for that next job by offering additional skill training after hours,” Amber said.
They hope to offer classes covering computer basics, Microsoft Office, résumé-writing, job interview preparation, buying a car, budgeting and more.
Light House Coffee’s other objective is to only use coffee sourced through direct trade, which involves working with coffee roasters who have personal relationships with coffee farmers around the world.
“These relationships remove intermediaries in the process from getting the coffee beans to coffee shops, which means coffee farmers receive more money for their labor and product versus other methods of trade,” she said.
The Elworths refer to refugees as “displaced people” on their website and social media platforms in an attempt to eliminate the stigma and politicization often associated with the term.
“Especially with current events in the past two years, people can often forget what ‘refugee’ means,” Amber said. “Instead of it meaning someone who is seeking refuge, because there are circumstances so terrible they can’t stay in their country, people’s minds tend to veer towards terrorism, political parties, a lack of security and safety or immigration concerns.”
“We hope that saying ‘displaced people’ will remind people that it was not their choice to leave their home and that they are simply trying to find a place to live where they don’t have to worry about their safety and wellbeing,” she said.
More information, such as specific menu items and a specific location, will be released as the shop’s opening nears. T-shirts and mugs will be sold online soon.