Shocking numbers concerning the issue of human trafficking in Houston cover the walls. Books packed with information and stories about survivors are stacked on the tables and all proceeds go directly to funding anti-human trafficking activist groups.
The espresso is strong, and the atmosphere is welcoming in the warehouse-turned-café, A 2nd Cup, but its focus rests on something greater than lattes and cortados.
A 2nd Cup does more than serve coffee — it gives people who are exploited by slavery and human trafficking a second chance at life.
“Our vision is to educate people by creating awareness, partner with anti-trafficking organizations and fund after-care for survivors,” said Sandre Le, a barista who has worked with the café for over a year.
The coffee shop was created by Erica Raggett, a school teacher who realized the horrors of human trafficking in 2010. Raggett said after she heard the truth behind modern slavery she knew she couldn’t walk away without doing something, so she combined her love of community and coffee with the idea of a non-profit café to provide funding.
Raggett opened A 2nd Cup in an effort to make a dent in the overwhelming statistics of human exploitation.
According to a report done by Concerned Women For America in partnership with Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, over 27 million people worldwide are in some form of slavery, and human trafficking is a $32 billion industry.
The numbers don’t stop there: 25 percent of all human trafficking victims are in Texas, and the I-10 corridor between Houston and El Paso is identified as the central trafficking route.
A 2nd Cup, which was initially open only two days a week and relied on volunteer staff, began raising awareness and serving coffee in 2012. It wasn’t until October, 2015 that it moved to its location on E. 11th Street in the Heights.
It now operates from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and while its staff receives wages, all profit from sales goes directly to a variety of partnering organizations focused on ending slavery.
“All of our proceeds go into after-care for survivors, and we partner with organizations that already have that (service) up, such as Freedom Place and Free the Captives,” Le said.
After-care includes counseling, job searching seminars, training and care for survivors as they emerge into the free world after being rescued from the trafficking world.
Besides offering an array of tasty treats and rich coffees, A 2nd Cup encourages anti-slavery organizations to utilize its back-of-house venue as a free meeting space. The 5,000 sq. ft. building is also home to occasional live music shows, weekly yoga classes and local art shows.
“My favorite part about working here has definitely been the community,” Le said. “It’s really fun to meet the people that live around here, and I love seeing my regulars.”
The community plays a large role in ending human trafficking and the more people who know about the abominable trade, the less likely it is to occur, Raggett said.
“A 2nd Cup will (serve) as a unique venue and touch-point to help educate people about this issue,” Raggett said in an interview with Houstonia Magazine.
Working to end the global slave trade is a daunting task, but A 2nd Cup allows people to make a difference in their community and the world by simply purchasing a cup of coffee.
“We believe that all survivors of human trafficking deserve to have a second cup,” Raggett said. “A second chance at life.”