FROM IDEA TO REALITY
321 Coffee began when four NC State students came together and discussed the idea of creating an opportunity for meaningful employment for individuals with IDD. We began hosting pop-up coffee services at various events on campus and around the Raleigh area. At our first event, we set-up folding tables rented from the student union and served Starbucks coffee. These events helped us start developing a presence in the community. Many people rallied behind our mission, and we always came out of an event with new opportunities to pursue.
We then opened on Saturdays under a tent at the North Carolina State Farmers Market, and our dorm rooms served as the test kitchen for cold brew and storage units for lots and lots of cups. It allowed us to grow a community of support around our mission, giving us the confidence to continue pushing the idea forward.
Today, we are permanent vendors at the NC State Farmers' Market and employ 21 adults. Our space is a full-scale coffee kiosk, with everything from an espresso machine to locally roasted beans.
80% of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are unemployed.
We are changing this. 321 Coffee is a nonprofit coffee shop that employs adults with IDD. Our mission is to provide meaningful employment for adults with IDD and to model inclusion for other businesses to follow.
Currently, 321 Coffee operates as permanent vendors at the NC State Farmers Market and employs twenty-one adults, all of whom are paid above minimum wage. Now, we are pursuing opening a storefront to grow our impact.
OF OUR MISSION
Matthew Schwab, one of our baristas at 321 Coffee, explains why employing people with Down syndrome (and other disabilities) is important better than anyone could. Check out his TEDx talk to see what he has to say about this!