Deaf Can! Coffee opens new café
Carlyle Gabbion ( second left), head barista at Deaf Can! Coffee and his colleagues Alex McDonald (stooping at right) and Shawn Lyon (standing at right), demonstrate how coffee is roasted to patrons who attended the launch of Deaf Can ! Coffee E3 Café and Sip ‘n’ Sign event recently at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf on Cassia Park Road in Kingston.
Deaf Can! Coffee, a social enterprise, empowered by the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) of the JN Foundation, officially launched its E3 Café,located at the Caribbean Christian School for the Deaf, on Cassia Park Road in Kingston, recently.
The E3 Café provides a spacious customised area and is an excellent location for business meetings, conferences and casual functions. The facility also boasts modern amenities, such as: high-speed Wi-Fi access, a flat-screen television for presentations, and state-of-the-art coffee-making equipment.
The establishment was officially opened on Thursday, August 9 at a “Sip ‘n’ Sign” event, held on the campus of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf.
Blake Widmer, co-founder of Deaf Can! Coffee, said that, “The E3 Café, which stands for 'engaging, equipping, and empowering,' is one means to provide job opportunities for members of the deaf community.”
“We want to engage deaf young persons in the process to learn about coffee, acquire the skills to be a great ‘barista,’ and know how to serve customers, with the skills and confidence, which will lead them to be empowered,” he said.
Widmer informed that the café has a captive audience of some 50 students at the Caribbean Christian School for the Deaf school and that members of staff would either be students at the school, or past students, who recently graduated.
The launch of the E3 Café is a recent initiative of Deaf Can! Coffee, as the social enterprise continues to expand its cafe operations through partnerships.
“Deaf Can! Coffee’s growth can be attributed to several factors.One feature is primarily partnerships. This has allowed us to grow beyond our capacity. But, if we had to go out to purchase equipment and rent space it would take a lot more capital investment and time. Therefore, what we have done is to partner with existing coffee shops and cafes,” Widmer said.
Andreen Smith (right), head barista and manager at Deaf Can! Coffee shows off her just made latte coffee while patrons look on. Occasion was the official launch of Deaf Can! Coffee E3 Café and Sip ‘n’ Sign event recently at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf on Cassia Park Road in Kingston.
Consequently, during the past year and a half, Deaf Can! Coffee increased its partnerships from one to eleven in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, St Elizabeth and St James. Some of its outlets are located at: theEmbassy of the United States of America, Toyota Coffee House, Jake’s Hotel, Script Café, Jablum Coffee House at the NCB Towers, Cannon Ball Café and Bookophilia. The company also operates a mobile unit.
“Another factor which contributed to our growth was the networking we built from the social enterprise community, primarily through SEBI and the JN Foundation. Through networking, we learned what they were doing, what worked for them, and, we were able to build awareness about our products and services through the ‘Buy Social Campaign’,” he explained.
Opal Whyte, project manager of SEBI, said that the new facility was another revenue stream for Deaf Can! Coffee.
“What we say to prospective clients is that, they can use the power in their purchase to create change by supporting E3 Café. They would be satisfying their needs for private meeting space with great coffee, excellent service, and, their purchases would stretch beyond to impact the entire deaf community,” she explained.
For the past six years, through the JN Foundation and USAID, SEBI has mobilized investment, enterprise development, employment and revenue, particularly in underserved communities across the country. SEBI has trained managers and employees to achieve efficiency and growth in their social enterprises, by improving their core business competences,such as management and marketing skills.
As a result, participants have enhanced their operations, generating in excess of $120 million in revenue; as well as employed more than 200 community members.
SEBI is a joint initiative of the JN Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.