DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — 321 Coffee has a mission: including everyone and proving that a disability does not limit you. The North Carolina coffee business 321 Coffee does just that, and the end of 2022 brought them new resources to do so in Durham.
“We employ people with all sorts of disabilities, and it’s just really cool to see everyone working together with different strengths and skillsets,” Lindsay Wrege, the co-founder of the company, said.
321 Coffee’s newest location at 300 Morris St. in Durham does exactly what the company has done for five years now at their three Raleigh locations: building a team that includes everyone, including those living with intellectual and development disabilities.
“I like the impact it [has], the mission we are upholding, and I like just being part of an amazing company,” Emma Wissink, a barista with the coffee shop, said.
Wissink has been with the company since they started. She says every day is a chance to show customers that her disability doesn’t set her back.
“It feels amazing to see little kids like that,” she said. “The moms will say, ‘Hey, that woman has a job and also has IDD,’ so it’s nice to see that the kid has an opportunity to grow.”
Wrege says inclusivity is inherent in everything they do, right down to their name.
“The 321 represents Downs Syndrome, which is when someone has three copies of the 21 chromosome,” she said.
And the inclusivity stretches to the people making your cup of joe.
“They are the ones roasting the coffee, they’re taking orders, they’re making the lattes, they’re doing the latte art,” Wrege said.
And with each cup brewed, she says they’re breaking down barriers.
“Seeing how proud everyone is in themselves and the confidence that they’ve built and the pride they take in their work is so fulfilling, it’s something that everyone deserves,” Wrege said.
They’re showing that no matter what your background is, there’s a place in this world for everyone.
“You can be included everywhere you go, coffee shops, retails shops, everywhere,” Wissink said.
Wrege says she’s proud of the work her team has done, but they’re always looking to expand more. She says right now, they have a waitlist of over 100 people who want to work at the coffee shop.