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Meet David Tran of City Heights Coffee House

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Tran.

As a 501(c)3, City Heights Coffee House’s vision is to become the central, multi-cultural gathering hub for our diverse neighborhood and to employ high-risk youth (juvenile, refugee, and homeless), graduating them towards self-sufficiency. They offer life skills and job training to populations who would otherwise face barriers of entry into employment. They specifically tailor their efforts to youth age 18 through 24.

The idea came to Sterling Tran in 2014, where she wanted to see coffee be used as a medium to improve their community. She hails from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, one of the top specialty coffee companies in the world. Along with her business partners David and Lonny Cheuk, Sterling launched the company in April 2015, and by October, coffee & tea were being sold at the local farmers’ market. In July 2016, they moved into an outdoor cafe across from the YMCA Copley-Price in the heart of City Heights. They’re in the midst of raising funds for their brick & mortar expansion (Link:

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Transformative change in communities take a whole lot of community, commitment, and courage. Moreover, it takes time. The success of our social enterprise hinges not only on a sustainable revenue source, but effective professional and personal development of our cohort participants who need a second chance at life. Struggles include empowering our employees to break the perpetual cycles of our broken system, adapting to the normal challenges that a small business faces, and breathing hope into difficult situations – especially in our employees’ lives. We’re working with real people who have real problems, but our reward is their success as they secure a new job and turn their lives around.

Please tell us about City Heights Coffee House.
Our impact is measured by post-cohort job placement, including development of character, soft skills, and hard skills in the workplace. Trainees build their resumes, practice customer service through on-the-job training, practice interviewing and networking, learn personal financial budgeting tools, hone their leadership and conflict resolution skills through healthy relationship building, improve computer skills, and study business communication. City Heights Coffee House staff work with outside employers and businesses to find jobs for trainees and community clients.

We’re most proud of our employees – their courage and audacity to believe in themselves.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
From age of 4 through 14, my parents had enrolled me as a student in Hapkido, a Korean martial arts. Traditionally on Friday nights, instead of our standard training and sparring, a group of 15 students would play dodgeball in the Hapkido studio next to my parents’ house. Those were some of my fondest memories.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Beautiful Truth Photography

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