Individuals with disabilities strive to succeed in the workplace. Many organizations seek partnerships with the business community.
A Chicago-area not for profit agency serving children and adults with disabilities and a coffee company have found the perfect blend.
Aspire, a not for profit organization has been around for over 50 years. Metropolis Coffee Company has been owned by the Dreyfuss family for almost 10 years.
Together they inspired each other with the creation of special blends that supports the organization and gives people with disabilities employment opportunities. The second floor of a building in Chicago’s Andersonville community is the home of Metropolis Coffee.
“We source coffee all over the world,” said Jeff Dreyfuss, president and ceo. “I travel there, we buy the best coffee we can find, we roast them to the flavor of the coffee instead of the dark or light. We sell them both resale and wholesale and web sale. And we try to bring communities together.”
His mission is to work with community organizations, so they selected Aspire Coffee Works.
“We began to talk to each other a little over two years ago and it seemed like a great and beautiful challenge not just to teach skills, but maybe if we could integrate people into our own workforce,” Dreyfuss said.
Several of Metropolis workers are from Aspire.
“So we’ve put Aspire people on our payroll (and) when we have a chance they can do the same work as anybody else.”
Aspire Coffee Works is now a significant part of the organization, said Erik Johnson, former Vice President for Advancement at Aspire.
“We wanted to build jobs and create coffee at the same time and they’re like, ‘how great is that’ ” Johnson said. “Now, two and half years later, we’re in all the Whole Foods stores in Chicago, we’re in other groceries and available on our website and we’re doing great business.”
Three roasts have been created for Aspire CoffeeWorks, Johnson said.
“What happens is master roasters, roast our special blend for us at the Metropolis roasting garage. After that, our Aspire roasting team takes over and they weigh the coffee and they grind it, prepare all the packaging and fulfill all the orders.”
Sandra Michel is an Aspire Coffee Works’ employee. She has been working here for four months.
One of the reason she loves her job is because she loves coffee.
“They work side by side with the Metropolis team, which is wonderful,” John said. “That was our vision that we would be out in the community where folks with disabilities could work side-by-side with typically developing folks in a community based setting. That’s what we’ve accomplished here at Aspire Coffee Works.”
So if you are looking for a gift for people who love coffee and want to support a disability organization, check out Aspire Coffee Works.