Ahmad Alzoukani – Owner
My name is Ahmad Alzoukani. I grew up in Damascus, Syria in a big family, and I am the youngest of 10 children. Growing up in such a big family it was impossible to have your own things, even your own bed. As 10 siblings, all the brothers used to sleep in one room and all the sisters in another room so there was no space that was your own. I started working when I was only 6 years old helping my friends wash buildings to help my family. From that point on, I had to keep working and finding new jobs while also going to school to support my family and help my parents feed us all. It was hard for girls to work in our culture so my brothers and I worked extra because my sisters couldn’t.
When the civil war started in my country, I had to leave to a safer place with better opportunities for my future. I got the chance to come to the United States in 2015. I was lucky more than the others because not many people get this opportunity. I have heard a lot about the American Dream, which I feel that I am living every day. I want to be honest, that I just realized this opportunity is not easy and doesn’t happen to everyone who was not born in the US. So I am very grateful that I am here and am sharing my story.
When I first came to the US, I came with almost nothing. I barely spoke a few words in English and had no money. I started working as a barista at Refuge Coffee Company, and I learned all my coffee skills there. But I realized that to reach my dream, I have to work harder, and since I am an immigrant that did not grow up in this country, there is more work for me. After spending over 5 years working for other people, I finally started my own business: MINT COFFEEHOUSE.
My goal is to help refugees and immigrants and support our community. I have learned that to enjoy the life here you need to help others reach their dreams, because I feel that many people have helped me get where I am today. As an immigrant business owner, every little bit I can do makes a difference for someone.
I grew up on my family’s farm in Virginia. The middle of 3 children and the only girl, I learned to be a hard worker capable of balancing many things at once. I graduated from the University of Richmond in 2016 with a degree in International Studies and Elementary Education. Upon graduating, I moved to Atlanta to begin seminary at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology.
While a graduate student, I sought out new and interesting study places where I could be both academically productive and around people. This paid off in more ways than I could have imagined, as it was at one of my new favorite coffee shops that I met Ahmad. It was also there that I gained a greater appreciation for coffee and began learning the coffee business.
Most recently, I completed a second master’s degree at Georgia State University in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language, combining my loves of diverse cultures and teaching. When I’m not making coffee or helping run the business, you can find me teaching and tutoring students from a wide variety of backgrounds in an array of subjects.
Coffee has played a unique role in each of our lives. Coffee is an essential part of Ahmad’s Syrian culture and Marianna has similarly found joy in sharing time and space with people over a cup of coffee. But coffee has also played a central role in our shared story. It was when Ahmad was managing a coffee shop and Marianna was searching for coffee-based study spots that our paths crossed. The early stages of our relationship involved countless hours working alongside each other at the coffee shop and helping each other with our work. Eventually, Marianna even began working at the coffee shop herself and learning what goes into a coffee business.
With coffee such an integral part of our story, it only made sense that when we decided to get married in 2019, the wedding would be at the same coffee shop where we met. We also knew as we looked to our future and how to best support our family that starting our own coffee business was the answer. As we continue to grow Mint Coffeehouse, we not only love what we do, but we love that we get to do it together!
Coffee is our passion, and we hope to share that passion with you through our catering! We look forward to meeting and serving you soon!