At BrewAble Cafe, a small coffee shop located in the Alpharetta Community Center, you might think you’re just ordering a cup of joe and a blueberry crumble. But there’s much more to it than that. You’re helping a group of adults with learning disabilities polish both their business and social skills.
Co-founded in 2019 by local residents Mary Ulich and Jeanette Dummer, BrewAble currently employs 10 “brewistas,” ranging in age from 20 to 59 years old, who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The primary goal of the cafe was to “increase the visibility of those with disabilities in the community,” says Dummer, whose own son has autism spectrum disorder. “I need, my son needs, they all need inclusion.”
In addition to making lattes and cappuccinos, the brewistas do everything from ringing up customers to taking inventory. “A lot of my job is teaching them hard skills,” says cafe manager Isabelle Rudd, who has a younger brother on the autism spectrum. “But it’s also teaching them soft skills such as being able to socialize. A lot of people with disabilities have low self-confidence and anxiety about doing things.”
The payoff is seeing the brewistas go from being able to handle one or two steps in a row to more like 20 steps in a row. And, ultimately, seeing them take what they’ve learned at BrewAble Cafe out into the world. Past employees have gone on to work at local spots such as Main Event and Bagel Boys Café. Another went on to help start a business called Three Basketeers, where individuals with disabilities make gift baskets that are delivered throughout North Fulton.
“Around 70 percent of all people with disabilities are unemployed,” says Dummer. Thankfully, the ones working at BrewAble Cafe are garnering the work skills and social abilities they need to help make them feel like a vital member of the community.
If you would like to donate to BrewAble Cafe or hire them to do a mini pop-up at your office or meeting, visit www.brewablecafe.com