(March 13, 2023) PITTSTON, PA – Rounds of applause, milk steaming and coffee brewing marked Coffee Inclusive’s first day in business.
At Pittston’s newest coffee shop, employees, who are intellectually or developmentally disabled, work alongside trained baristas. NEPA Inclusive is the nonprofit organization behind the cafe. Their goal is to provide the employees with skills and knowledge that is transferable to other cafes in the region.
Coffee Inclusive’s official first day started with a grand opening celebration. CEO Frank Bartoli thanked the large crowd full of supporters, local legislators and employees gathered on the first floor of the shop’s home on Kennedy Boulevard.
“We celebrate that there’s a place where people with diverse abilities are valued as hardworking, contributing positive members of a team,” he said.
During the celebration around 10 employees, including Christina Wesley, introduced themselves to the large crowd.
“I’m going to make excellent coffee for you guys,” she said.
As a coffee drinker herself, Wesley is excited to be working at the shop.
On the second floor, employees blended fruits and almond milk for smoothies and protein bowls behind the coffee counter. Baristas from Zummos and Adezzo coffee shops, both located in Scranton, were on hand to help with coffee, lattes and other caffeinated beverages.
Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo joined in on the celebration along with state Sen. Marty Flynn and U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright.
“Please come here and support this great endeavor,” he said, “and let’s create more opportunities like this so that those opportunities extend across the board here in the city of Pittston and in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Coffee shop manager Tom Carlucci, NEPA Inclusive’s quality assurance manager, said he hoped he was looking at all repeat customers.
Bartoli founded NEPA Inclusive in 2013. His daughter, Ellie, has Down Syndrome and he realized the area needed more opportunities for people in the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. Now the organization provides training, advocacy and support services to help people live an inclusive life.
Bartoli hopes that someday, Coffee Inclusive will no longer need to exist.
“Because we won’t be able to find the employees that we’ll need because it’ll be working for you and not us,” he said. “That’ll be the day that we say we’ve done our job.”
For more details, visit Coffee Inclusive on Facebook.