Coffee drinkers are raising their glasses to one of America’s favorite drinks… well, raising mugs, insulated tumblers and to-go cups with lids. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, coffee was reported by U.S. adults as the most regularly consumed beverage. In this survey, coffee even fared better than bottled water, sports drinks, tea and alcoholic drinks. If java isn’t exactly your jam, the inclusive business model of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee might just broaden your horizons.
Parents Pour Their Hearts into Inclusive Employment
Just like most parents, Amy and Ben Wright strived to nurture their children in a happy environment and, eventually, hoped to see all four of them advance into the workforce. But the parents — of Lillie (23 years old), who has autism; Emma Grace (22 years old); Beau (18 years old), who has Down syndrome; and Bitty (13 years old), who also has Down syndrome — came to understand that people with disabilities often struggle to land meaningful employment. Unfortunately, 81% of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities do not have paid employment, according to research reported by Special Olympics.
“What we discovered is that while the education systems have come a long way, they’re designed to prepare kids for jobs that don’t exist for them,” Ben shared. Then, a solution jolted Amy faster than a shot of espresso!
“It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop,” Amy recalled. “I realized it would be the perfect environment for bringing people together. Seeing the staff taking orders, serving coffee — they’d realize how capable they [i.e. members of the disability community] are.”
In January 2016, the Wrights opened the original Bitty & Beau’s Coffee shop in Wilmington, North Carolina. The company emphasized its inclusive employment mission with a goal to not only sell tasty coffeehouse delights but to empower people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted and included in the community.
Serving Up Warmth
From black to light, caffeinated to decaffeinated, hot to iced, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee has a diverse drink menu to satisfy all. Customers may order warm or cold coffee classics, such as lattes, cappuccinos, espresso and Americanos; plus frappes and smoothies. Assorted bites like bagels, muffins and cinnamon rolls are also available for purchase.
The company’s distinctive service quickly warmed the hearts of customers near and far. As of fall 2022, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee has 23 franchise locations across 13 states, with over 350 employees with differing abilities. Apparently, consumers nationwide are craving inclusive businesses and services – and, sometimes, with cream and sugar! In fact, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee was deemed the most sought-after takeout restaurant in South Carolina, according to a study from move.org.
Why Drinking Coffee is Beneficial
Coffee often gets a bad rap but, according to some health experts, a cup of Joe a day is actually beneficial to one’s health. Drinking coffee on a regular basis, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic, has been shown to lower the risk of developing several conditions, including Alzheimer’s, colorectal and liver cancers, depression, Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes; in addition to providing protection against liver cirrhosis in people at risk of the disease (such as those with alcohol use disorder or fatty liver disease).
Aside from these scientifically-proven health benefits, supporting the mission of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee can stimulate a person’s endorphins. It’s called the “do good, feel phenomenon.” Research suggests that when someone does something good, a happiness high ensues. So in this case, customers of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee can feel good about investing their purchasing power into a business model that gainfully employs people with intellectual disabilities.
Want to Stir the (Coffee) Pot More?
Craving a cup of coffee and then some? Stop into one of Bitty & Beau’s 23 locations and/or shop online for bagged coffee and company-themed swag and accessories. For those who really love coffee and want to further the important mission of inclusive workplaces, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee has franchise opportunities available. And while the company has greatly expanded, family remains at its core.
“The whole family is involved,” Amy tells AmeriDisability. “Our older girls [Lillie and Emma Grace] have leadership roles in the company.”
Listen, all parents seem to possess problem-solving superpowers when it comes to their kids and, perhaps, that’s especially true when it comes to parents of children with special needs, as the Wrights have demonstrated. In 2017, Amy was honored with CNN’s Hero of the Year Award. During her acceptance speech, Amy publically proclaimed to her children: “Bitty and Beau — I would not change you for the world… but I will change the world for you!”
And that she has. So let’s raise a glass (um, a coffee mug) to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee for empowering all people, especially those with disabilities, to feel valued, accepted and included in the community AND the workforce.