This beautiful photo of Bill Snell was on the cover of the Fall issue of Spectrums, a magazine that highlights autism spectrum disorder. It is distributed in Portland and southwest Washington. Bill has worked at the Happy Cup Coffee roasting site for two years. Now 23 years old, he is an energetic young man who, due to his disability, would have difficulty finding employment in today's job market.
In her article, Courtney Freitag, Spectrums' publisher, captures the environment of the roaster as workplace and Full Life. The latter, an organization that creates programs for people with disabilities, created the coffee company as a social venture. All its profits support Full Life.
To write her article, Courtney spent time at both places to give a sense of the days that Bill and co-workers enjoy. She captures some great quotes like Bill's description of himself, "I'm like an autistic sponge. I soak up everything."
Besides the appearance of the Spectrums article, last month marked the introduction of a new, bigger roaster into the operation. CEO Rachel Bloom (our daughter) noted that growing coffee sales required increased production. Happy Cup Coffee can be found on the shelves at both large groceries--Whole Foods, New Seasons-- and medium sized ones like Market of Choice, Food Front and Peoples co-ops. [Individual store list HERE.]
If you know Portland, you've had a bean burrito or quesidilla at Laughing Planet Cafe. When Rachel and family moved into the Hawthorne neighborhood 13 years ago, it was the lively place on Belmont Avenue-- family-friendly with plastic dinosaurs for the kids to play with/argue over while waiting. There never was coffee or tea on the menu.
All this changed at the end of October. In the seven Portland Planets Happy Cup Coffee is on the menu. There's one near Portland State that Ron and I visit. It does not offer toys to play with only many small weird collectables for purchase. We like their BOWLS--rice or bean. Always lively staff in signature tees, and aggressively correct gluten-free cookies.
Though both Laughing Planet and New Seasons recently expanded to other states, they are still seen as local. This funny, rainy city turns out to be a very good place for new ideas to take root. It's worked for both Full Life, begun more than a decade ago and the younger Happy Cup Coffee.
more coffee news soon...