There’s a Coffee Shop Staffed by Homeless — And It’s Working

There’s an estimated three unemployed persons for every available job opening. The job market is tougher than ever to break into, especially for the homeless – those who need those jobs the most. But one shop is finally offering jobs directly toward those most in need.

The new shop, a coffee shop in Fort Collins, Colorado called RedTails Coffee, was founded by husband and wife duo Kelly and Seth Kelley in May. Their mission statement was simply to provide job opportunities to homeless and low-income applicants.

“If you’ve been homeless and have a gap on your resume, people don’t give you a chance,” said Seth Kelley. “It’s a cycle that’s really hard to shake.”

The location of the shop couldn’t be more perfect either, as it’s located just beside a new, incomplete housing development for homeless and low-income tenants called Red Tail Ponds.

The Kelleys were inspired by their neighbors’ fears and reservations about the new housing development, and set out to show them that they needn’t fear poor people by letting them see them as everyday people that can hold down jobs and provide a valuable service.

Though they’d never opened a business, let alone a coffee shop, the process went pretty smoothly, as they hired two experience baristas to ease the new homeless employees.

So far, the store has only one homeless employee to compliment the two baristas, but he’s excelled at the job and their website announces that they’ll soon be bringing on more employees, exclusively from the lower income bracket.

Here’s hoping the Kelleys and RedTails Coffee continue to challenge perceptions and prejudice, help those in need, and serve some great coffee. The next time we’re in Colorado, we’ll be sure to pick some of their coffee up.