SEATTLE — At just 20 years old, Auren Broxey has gone through some tough times. Broxey used to be homeless.
Broxey remembers struggling to figure out how to get basic necessities, like food, while going to school and trying to find a job. Broxey now works as a barista for Street Bean Coffee Roasters.
The coffee served there doesn't just taste good. It does good.
Street Bean is a job training program for people ages 19 to 24 who are trying to leave street life. Jesse Smith, wholesale director at Street Bean, said there is an “orphan aspect” to street life. Many young people living on the streets have been kicked out of their homes by their parents.
“Youth usually come to us having to look for themselves, which is really tough,” Smith said.
Those without housing face unique challenges when looking for jobs. On a job application, they may have to leave their addresses and contact information blank. This can be met with judgment from employers.
That's why Street Bean partners with the nonprofit New Horizons, which provides case management and housing for the cafe's trainees. The employment program includes all the barista basics, from operating an espresso machine to pouring and steaming milk. Apprentices also learn skills that can be applied to any career: interpersonal communication, conflict resolution and teamwork.
The transition out of street life is a long process. But thanks to Street Bean, apprentices like Broxey can reclaim their lives.
“It has helped me be more confident,” Broxey said. “I've been able to finish school and get a more stable place to live.”
Street Bean is open Monday through Saturday at both Seattle locations.
Street Bean Coffee Roasters | Belltown
2711 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
Street Bean | U-District
5015 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105