28 Coffee Shops That Hire People With Down Syndrome You Can Support
This article was updated on November 16, 2020.
Last month, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop opened in its third location. Its founder, Amy Wright, named the shop after her two children, Bitty and Beau, who both have Down syndrome. Noticing the challenges and obstacles faced by people with disabilities in the workforce, Wright opened her first shop and began hiring adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Although an increasing number of people with disabilities are being hired, a recent study showed that the employment rate is still low — with approximately 37 percent of people with disabilities employed compared to 77 percent of their non-disabled counterparts. However, there are coffee shops, like Bitty & Beau’s, working to fix this by hiring and training people with disabilities like Down syndrome in customer service, food preparation and more.
If you want to support local coffee shops that hire people with Down syndrome (or apply for a job!) we’ve got you covered. Here are 28 coffee shops that hire people with Down syndrome and other disabilities you can check out nationwide.
Kim and Scott Morrison and Noelle and Tim Alix both have daughters with Down syndrome. After seeing the difficulties of finding work through their children, the two Connecticut couples decided to launch BeanZ & Co., a cafe providing employment to people with disabilities. Not only is the coffee delicious, BeanZ & Co.’s equipment and set-up is designed to be extra accessible in design. The shop’s tip jar goes to a charity of the employees’ choice at the end of the month.
Check out BeanZ & Co.’s employment opportunities.
Wilmington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia
Bitty & Beau’s founder Amy Wright has two children (Bitty and Beau) who were born with Down syndrome. Aware of the difficulties of finding employment as a person with disabilities, Wright decided to open her own coffee shop to help support individuals in her community. They recently opened their third location and remain a popular destination in their communities.
Contact Bitty & Beau’s for details regarding employment opportunities.
Tammy Lamb created the organization Breaking Barriers to provides skills and job training to people with disabilities. Her son, Craig, who has Down syndrome, branched out and created the coffee shop, Breaking Beans, as a part of his mother’s organization in order to create employment opportunities for people in their community. If you want a taste of Breaking Beans’ finest, you can even order online.
Contact Breaking Beans Coffee and Market for information about employment opportunities.
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Breaking Grounds Cafe offers paid opportunities and training in customer service and food service to people with disabilities. It is part of Northeast Arc, an agency that works with over 10,000 people with disabilities each year. Not only can you stop in and sample some of their delicious coffee and snacks, but you can browse their products and art.
Contact Breaking Grounds Cafe for details about employment opportunities.
Mount Holly, New Jersey
Breaking Grounds Coffee & Cafe stems from the Zefer Foundation, a group that seeks to improve the lives of those with developmental disabilities. By providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the foundation hopes its dedication to inclusion will expand into the community to promote diversity and kindness. The cafe’s got a great menu, plus, you won’t want to miss the swag.
Contact Breaking Grounds Coffee & Cafe if you’re interested in job openings.
Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates has chocolate, coffee and tea made by a group of young adults with disabilities. It’s the first initiative of the nonprofit Every1 Can Work, which aims to create job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Co-founder Cameron Graham graduated from the Davis Career Center with a focus on catering. Now she’s bringing that expertise to delicious warm beverages and treats.
7. Cause Cafe
Fort Salonga, New York
— Cause Cafe (@OurCoffeeWCause) March 17, 2017
Cause Cafe provides adults with disabilities employment opportunities, and while they have one store for now, they hope to expand in the future. The shop emerged thanks to two Long Island siblings on the autism spectrum. When you set foot in the cafe, be prepared to enjoy a nice, warm up of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Contact Cause Cafe for details regarding employment opportunities.
Beth and Alan Woodrum’s youngest son, Chris, was born with Down syndrome and part of the Woodrum’s motivation to open their shop came from connecting the community with people with disabilities. The shop is meant to accept and include everyone, offering jobs to people with disabilities. With Chris’s shop tagline, “Where hot coffee meets cool friends,” we don’t think you’ll be disappointed when the shop reopens sometime this year after renovations.
Contact Chris’s Coffee and Custard to find out what jobs they might have available.
MaryEllen is hard at work, helping grow her future! So proud of the work she does to help grow the Dream! pic.twitter.com/rgAHoRgu1Q
— Dreamers Merchants Coffee Company (@Dreamers_Merch) March 12, 2018
In 2015, Diane Grover began her company in hopes of assisting her daughter and other people with disabilities secure jobs. Through an online model, Grover provides opportunities for people with disabilities to become entrepreneurs. The company provides a starter kit and training to start your own online coffee business. There are currently members of Dreamers Coffee in 13 states, including North Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and more!
Furnace Hills Coffee began with Dave Baldwin and his daughter Erin, who has Down syndrome and is the chief roaster of the shop. They began Furnace Hills with the vision of providing jobs for people with disabilities. The shop raises money for organizations that support people with Down syndrome such as The Arc and the National Down Syndrome Society. You can also join one of its coffee clubs to make sure you get your monthly fix and all the brews are fair trade.
Contact Furnace Hills Coffee for more details regarding employment opportunities.
Goshen, Indiana and Bristol, Indiana
Gaining Grounds is a coffee house under ADEC, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities. The shop is a way to bridge common ground in the community and give opportunities to people with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential. In addition, ADEC sells and supports art, technology and woodworking made by people with disabilities. If you’re looking for a hot cuppa, however, Gaining Grounds is the place.
Contact Gaining Grounds Coffee House to learn more about potential job openings.
Georgette’s supports people with developmental disabilities by creating opportunities to build relationships and personal growth in addition to supported employment. Founder Georgette Engler was a mother to five children with disabilities. She and her husband, Roy, even opened Sunshine Children’s Home to help families care for children with disabilities in the 1950s. When you stop in to Georgette’s nowadays, you can stock up on coffee and even build your own gift basket.
To find out if Georgette’s Grounds & Gifts is hiring, visit its website.
13. GET Cafe
GET Cafe just opened on Feb. 14, and they’re ready to serve you a warm cup of morning coffee. It’s a project of Great Expectations Together, which was started after Brooke and Jon Godspeed learned of the stigma and discrimination their second child, Oliver, who has multiple developmental disabilities and medical conditions, would face. The Godspeed’s organization wanted to expand to offer employment opportunities, and GET Cafe was born.
Contact Great Expectations Cafe for info about job possibilities.
14. Hugs Cafe
If you’ve ever considered a warm cup of coffee like a hug, Hugs Cafe might be the place for you. They’ve also got some delicious food items and they deliver! Hugs Cafe seeks to enhance the lives of adults with disabilities by providing them with opportunities for growth, training and employment. Founder Ruth Thompson received her inspiration after working with people with disabilities in respite care.
Contact Hugs Cafe for information about employment opportunities.
15. Hugs + Mugs
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Hugs + Mugs founder Nancy Gianni’s biggest inspiration is her hardworking daughter, Gigi. Hugs + Mugs is part of GiGi’s Playhouse, a program that helps prepare individuals with Down syndrome for independence by providing them with employment opportunities, including at the cafe. Employees are responsible for pouring delicious coffee, scooping out creamy gelato and mixing up some milkshake magic you don’t want to miss.
Contact Hugs + Mugs for more details regarding potential job openings.
Lorna Heid’s daughter Emma survived a traumatic brain injury at birth. Heid was inspired by other coffee shops that employ people with disabilities, and she wanted to do the same for people in her community and her daughter. Independent Grounds Cafe was born. Whether you like your brew hot or cold or prefer a refreshing glass of juice, Independent Grounds provides that hometown coffee shop vibe.
Reach out to Independent Grounds Cafe for details regarding employment opportunities.
Pamala Campbell and Christie Siekman’s sons were born with Down syndrome. Although their sons entered a supportive school system, they had difficulty finding jobs as they got older. Inspired Grounds is still a work in progress — it’s not ready to open yet and needs financial support. However, the mom duo are looking to serve more than coffee. They also want to add a bakery, classes like gardening and fitness, a sensory area and more!
If you’re interested in helping Inspired Grounds Cafe open their doors, check out their Facebook page.
18. Laura’s Lattes
Canton, South Dakota
Laura Lee Lems has Down syndrome and, along with her parents, hopes Laura’s Lattes will serve as an inspiration to other people with disabilities, aid and provide for the community, and provide a wholesome cup of coffee with quality service. Laura’s menu will make your mouth water — caramel macchiatos and white mochas to fruit smoothies, ice cream and baked goods.
Contact Laura’s Lattes for more details regarding employment opportunities.
Park City, Utah
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Lucky Ones Coffee founders Katie Holyfield and Taylor Matkins, who both worked at the National Ability Center, wanted to empower people with disabilities. The goal of the coffee shop is to employ as many people with disabilities as possible all while serving you delicious drinks, tasty treats and unforgettable avocado toast and other great bites.
20. No Limits Cafe
Red Bank, New Jersey
Set to open in early 2019, No Limits Cafe will train and employ individuals with intellectual disabilities. After founders Stephanie and Mark Cartier’s youngest daughter was born with Down syndrome, the two wanted to provide training programs for people with disabilities in order to increase their skills for future employment. The Cartiers have big plans once the cafe is open, including training workshops and additional locations.
Hiring isn’t open yet, but keep your eye on No Limits Cafe’s website for employment opportunities.
Richard Vaughn founded Perky Planet alongside his wife Christine, who teaches students with disabilities. But the cause also hit closer to home. Richard Vaughn lost the use of his leg and became aware of the barriers faced by people with disabilities. The shop provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities and puts universal design front and center with inclusive and accessible business practices and design.
Contact Perky Planet Coffee for information about employment opportunities.
— Point Perk (@PointPerk) February 5, 2019
Point Perk is a coffee shop under the nonprofit The Point Arc. The coffee shop provides employment opportunities to adults with disabilities and supports the community. While you’re in town, you can grab some coffee and the snack of the day like donuts, bagels or muffins. Its parent organization, Point Arc, also provides opportunities for job training, educational classes and social activities.
Contact Point Perk Coffee Shop for more details regarding employment opportunities.
23. Shayna’s Place
North Kingstown, Rhode Island
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The shop was named after founder Matthew and Marjorie Orlerio’s daughter, Shayna, and inspired by her love of food. The family’s aim is to give Shayna and other people with disabilities the opportunity to pursue their passion and interests in customer and food services. Not to mention, the menu, which includes coffee and a variety of next-level sandwiches and other foods, will make your mouth water.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
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Two Cafe & Boutique is part of Two Foundation and began with founder Shari Hunter’s son Derek and his determination to seek independence by completing college and marrying. Derek showed that people with disabilities are capable of being independent as long as support is given and barriers are removed. The shop serves up organic coffee (plus cold brew) and has events.
Contact Two Cafe & Boutique for information about employment opportunities.
Niagara Falls, New York
Owner George Augstell, who has Down syndrome, opened Uncle Bill’s in 2016. Following the death of his uncle William in 2013, George decided to name the shop in honor of his loved one while inviting the community to stop in, grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile. And Augstell wants other people with Down syndrome to know, “Be yourself and to not be afraid of failure or anything else.”
Contact Uncle Bill’s Coffee Shop if you’re interested in potential job openings.
Panama City, Florida
Vinny & Bay’s co-founder Baylee Hanson, who has Down syndrome, opened her coffee shop in 2017 with her best friend, Madeline Lovejoy. The shop seeks to give people with disabilities a chance to succeed or, in Baylee’s words, “A place for our friends with special needs to have a job they can be proud of.” You might also be able to join in a game of UNO or karaoke. The shop is set to open in its second location in Newnan, Georgia, in the near future.
27. Gabi’s Grounds
Gabi Angelini wanted to own her own eatery since she was a child. However, after receiving little response from the jobs she had applied to and not being challenged at the supermarket she worked at, she opted to start her own shop. The business began with Angelini partnering with local shops and cafes to sell bags of coffee grounds. She plans to eventually raise enough money to open her own shop!
Contact Gabi’s Grounds regarding employment opportunities.
28. 321 Coffee
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Linsday Wrege created 321 Coffee after noticing that adults with intellectual disabilities often do not hold customer service positions. Wedge says the “321” in the coffee shop’s name comes from Down syndrome being the third copy of the 21st chromosome. 321 Coffee expanded last year from a booth at the State Farmers Market to a storefront to a coffee shop thanks to the hard work of its employees with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Contact 321 Coffee regarding employment opportunities.
Know any coffee shops that hire people with Down syndrome or other disabilities in your area? Let us know in the comments below!
Header image via Breaking Grounds Coffee & Cafe’s Instagram.