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RALEIGH, N.C. — A coffee shop dedicated to employing people with disabilities celebrated its third anniversary on Sunday.
321 Coffee opened at the N.C. State Farmers Market in 2019.
The name stands for March 21, which is World Down Syndrome Day. The number is also important because individuals with Down syndrome have a third copy of their 21st chromosome.
“We hire individuals with disabilities. They’re doing everything from roast the coffee, they take the orders, they make the lattes. They do it all and they crush it,” Lindsay Wrege, the co-founder and CEO of 321 Coffee, said.
DID YOU KNOW: 80% of individuals with disabilities are unemployed.
Tomorrow is #WorldDownSyndromeDay and 321 Coffee is celebrating the 3rd anniversary of it’s Raleigh Farmer’s Market location. The coffee shop employs people with disabilities ☕️ @SpecNews1RDU pic.twitter.com/mjjhvFSYMr
According to 321 Coffee, 80% of individuals with disabilities are unemployed so having an inclusive employer can be life-changing.
“I think people with disabilities are just people. I believe that everyone deserves a chance because we may have disabilities but that makes us even extra special,” Matthew Schwab, a barista and coffee roaster at 321 Coffee, said. “It’s just a good place to work. The only thing I can describe about my feeling is that I just feel happy and I feel like myself.”
“To see how we’ve grown and the professional development that so many of our baristas have had and to know that so many people have played a part in that, it’s really special,” Wrege said. “It means so much that we’ve had a team really believing in us since the beginning. We’ve grown a lot here. We survived COVID and we got more to come. We’re super pumped for today. It means so much that so many people are showing up to celebrate our people and our success.”
“I think a really special thing about 321 Coffee is that this is a community success. It’s people from the community working here. It’s people from the community showing up. Some people live right down the road. Some people are driving 45 minutes just for a cup of coffee. To see how we’ve grown and the professional development that so many of our baristas have had and to know that so many people have played a part in that, it’s really special,” Wrege said.
321 Coffee just opened a new shop at Pendo’s Raleigh headquarters just for employees. In a couple of months, a third location will be opening in downtown Raleigh at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Hillsborough Street.
“We’re so excited for that location. It’s going to be sort of our first true stand-alone shop of 321. It’s going to be open seven days a week. So stay tuned for more there. We’re in the middle of construction but we’re getting close,” Wrege said.
“We’re really proud of the ways that we have partnered with so many different organizations in the community. Whether that’s businesses that have bought into supporting us through a diverse supply chain and using our coffee in the breakroom or doing co-branded coffee but then also just community groups who this is their destination when they come for a cup of coffee. It means so much to us when we have people show up. It’s just a community win,” Wrege said.