COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — "When anyone suffers anywhere in the world, we all suffer," Stauf's founder Tom Griesemer said. "Our job is to help each other."
That's the message Stauf's Coffee is spreading as they welcomed some extra hands this year.
"I am as indebted to them as they are to me," Griesemer said.
He's talking about Oleg Vasilchuk and Ihor Manjul. Two Ukrainian refugees who came to America after the war broke out in their country.
"We all never believed that something like that would happen," Vasilchuk said. "We woke up Thursday morning from explosions. We had 20 minutes to get our stuff and we drove for 24 hours to Romania to get across the border. This kids were with us all day with headphones and watching YouTube so they didn’t hear the explosions."
Vasilchuk and his family arrived to Ohio first. Manjul had to go through Mexico. He described waiting at the border with his young child and wife who was eight months pregnant with their second baby.
"In Mexico, we were about 24 hours on the border," Manjul said. "It was cold and we waited in long lines. I am so glad that my family is on the safe side now.”
It wasn't long after they arrived that they were introduced to Griesemer. The three men had a lot in common.
"People that know me say coffee is in my veins," Vasilchuk said. "Ihor has a shop back in Ukraine in Odessa and he was brewing coffee all the time."
But Vasilchuk and Manjul had never learned the art of roasting. That's where Griesemer came in.
"We roast together, two, three, maybe even four days a week," Griesemer said.
The three have now been roasting together for nearly two months. Griesemer donating his time to teach them.
"Him passing his 35 years of knowledge to us, it was a shock," Vasilchuk said.
What we learn here, not only roasting but the spirit of encouragement and lifting up is something that we will need to take back.
Manjul said he thought the training was going okay so far. His teacher though sang his praises.
"He might be the best early trainee I’ve ever had," Griesemer said. "He’s phenomenal. He has everything it takes to be a phenomenal roaster."
Griesemer said their roasting lessons are focused on what would do well back at Manjul's coffee shop in Odessa.
"We’ve been talking about what Ukrainians respond well to so that I can train appropriately," he said. "Then Ihor will be able to roast that if and when he goes back to Odessa."
Vasilchuk and Manjul said they dream of going back home, but they aren't sure when that will be possible.
"I can spend a day with Ihor and Oleg and they get a text that a bomb just dropped ten blocks away from his coffee shop in Odessa," Griesemer said. "It’s heart-wrenching. There’s not enough any of us can do but we need to try."
"We are dreaming to go back," Vasilchuk said. "We are waiting for the time when the war is over and it will be safe for us and our kids to go back."
Vasilchuk and Manjul said being in America has been a blessing, but they fear people are forgetting that war is still going on in their home country.
"Our desire is for the world will not forget that there is a war in Ukraine," Vasilchuk said. "There are people dying every day. There are children dying every day."
Manjul said the coffee shop in Odessa is still standing, but it's hard to predict what will happen there over the next several months.
"With this situation, I found out that I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow," Manjul said. "In one day we could lose everything."
While in Ohio, Vasilchuk has continued to send assistance back to Ukraine. He created a website called Giving Help, where people can donate funds that get sent directly back to people in Ukraine.