For Profits, For Refugees


Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

Mad Priest

[F]irst and foremost, Mad Priest Coffee is a roastery dedicated to creating an excellent product. They focus on educating customers on the art and science of coffee—and on the humanitarian crises around the world.

Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the roaster partners with Bridge Refugee Services to employ refugees who are resettling in the area. Mad Priest founder Michael Rice and his wife, Cherita, lived in India for several years where they taught English, befriended many Syrian refugees, and worked in the country’s burgeoning coffee scene. Upon returning to the States, Rice knew he wanted to connect with the local refugee community, but through a for-profit business model.

“Patagonia was a big inspiration,” Rice says. “Here’s a normal, for-profit company that’s doing a ton of stuff to invest in the environment. I want to become the Patagonia for refugees in the coffee industry.”

Mad Priest Coffee
(Photos: courtesy of Mad Priest Coffee.)

Rice says it was important to have a product-driven company that started from the ground up. “Refugees need an opportunity to have a good job and maybe even start their own business. Small business is a big part of what makes American democracy great,” he says. Mad Priest is designed to welcome refugees with skills and goals well matched with the coffee industry, offering them a place to grow with the company, even inspiring them to start their own business at some point.

Rice works with Bridge to identify local refugees who are good candidates to build careers in specialty coffee. He began with one full-time employee and is in the process of adding another. Mad Priest also offers catering and event planning, focusing on bringing new cultural experiences to Chattanooga, and connecting refugees with new business opportunities.

Ellie Bradley is Fresh Cup‘s editor.

Share This Article

Ellie Bradley

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

Other Articles You May Like

Sweet Companions: Creating The Perfect Coffee and Cheese Pairing

Its high fat content and overall creaminess makes cheese ideal for balancing coffee’s acidity.
by Madeleine Coghlan | January 24, 2023

Coffee Waste or Product Potential?

Thanks to innovative minds across the globe, coffee cherry excess is being repurposed in food products, merchandise production, and even as biofuel.
by Anna Brones | January 19, 2023

Grinding for a Purpose: Everything You Need To Know To Pick The Right Grinder

While espresso machines get most of the attention, grinders are the real workhorses of a café.
by Michael Butterworth | January 17, 2023

The 2022 Fresh Cup Gift Guide

We asked our global team of writers, editors, and designers to suggest some of their go-to gifts this holiday season.
by Ashley Rodriguez | December 14, 2022