Guest post by Usman Khalid, Haven Coffee
Hi, I am Usman, a refugee from Pakistan who has lived in London for the last 12 years. I have always had a passion for good quality coffee. For me, my day doesn’t start until I’ve had that first cup. I have always dreamed of having a coffee business of my own someday. Over the years, my own experiences of hardships from applying for asylum, to fighting for my case and then facing other challenges as a refugee, added to and shaped up that dream of mine.
HAVEN Coffee – “Coffee with Conscience” – is the result of that dream. I have spent the last year working with an organisation called TERN to make the dream a reality. In the future we are aiming to combine this love for coffee with support for refugees, by promoting artists with a refugee background working in the visual arts (paintings, photography, etc) and performing arts (music, stand-up comedy, etc), organising local events and providing paid barista training. Furthermore, we want to keep acquiring new coffee stalls for refugees to work on, and even open an art gallery in which to organise events to showcase their work. I had been at Refugee Week before as a volunteer, but this year I attended with the desire to bring HAVEN Coffee to the world for the first time by providing coffee to over 200 coffee-hungry people.
There are three connections that link me to refugees and Refugee Week. I worked with Counterpoints Arts as marketing intern in 2018, I am myself a refugee, and I am developing this social enterprise to support refugees. So, the presence of HAVEN Coffee at RW Conference was a no-brainer.
However, as it was my first event of this scale, I was a bit scared and nervous. Soon after opening, the venue was filled with people wanting coffee – I wasn’t expecting so many people to turn up to my coffee stall after just a small mention of it on the event programme, but it was a very encouraging scene. Although my hands were growing tired, my heart and brain were telling me that I was another step closer to my dream. By 11:30 one full bag of beans was finished, and I had served around 70-80 people. I was scheduled to speak about HAVEN Coffee shortly before workshops and lunch and so we closed the stall for that period.
If the first half of the day was busy, the second half was even busier. After hearing about HAVEN Coffee during my speech many people came back for another round of coffee, and to talk to me about the idea behind the business. I finally served the last customer at exactly 5pm. Between those two sessions I made around 150 cups of cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites, americanos and espressos. I had a great time and moreover had good feedback and encouraging words from everyone.
As HAVEN Coffee is at its very initial stages and we are still looking for a permanent location to start the business. However, we currently cover events all over London and outside of London (not too far) in some cases. If you have an empty corner in your business to fill permanently with a nice coffee corner or just want to get your coffee needs covered for an event, kindly do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp 07757750774. Alternatively follow us and part of our story on Instagram haven_coffee.