Byline: Lindsey Kelleher
The first year at Ethan and the Bean had its challenges for the baristas at the shop.
But as the coffee shop celebrates its one-year anniversary this November, owner Pam Donovan is optimistic their second year in business will bring even more job opportunities and create learning experiences for its employees who have developmental and intellectual disabilities.
“Working at Ethan and the Bean has allowed us to be up front and personal in the community,” Donovan said. “It’s allowed us to start educating the community to not be fearful of how to interact with people who have disabilities.”
Staffers have learned how to make flavored coffee, cappuccinos, espressos, and hot teas during the past year. They also learned to bake various flavored breads, cookies and muffins, and regularly work on finessing their food prepping skills.
The coronavirus pandemic then hit the area last March, forcing the coffee shop to shut its doors for a month and a half like many other coffee shops and restaurants in the surrounding area. But Ethan and the Bean quickly reopened in May for takeout only services.
“It was disappointing, but we maintained our employees and they were excited to come back,” Donovan said.
The staffers continue to work hard each day, while also learning something new.
Half of the employees at Ethan and the Bean have a disability. Each worker brings a different personality and skill set to work with them each day. Some staffers, according to Donovan, are bubblier and enjoy talking to the customers. Others are more hands-on and enjoy baking and learning new recipes.
Ethan and the Bean was named after Pam’s son Ethan, 21, who has autism and epilepsy. The coffee shop is a non-profit business that trains people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work in the real world.
In the future, Ethan and the Bean hopes to form partnerships with other businesses where their staffers would work with staffers and job coaches at the other establishments.
Staffers from Ethan and the Bean also plan to attend a golf outing next year to raise awareness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and want to plan a walk with the Little Falls Recreation Department, also to raise awareness.