Coffee company brewing up inclusion and strong relationships

ELKHART, Ind.—A local Elkhart coffee company that only employs young adults with special needs, is striving to make a difference in the world- one cup of joe at a time!

Every day the aroma of fresh, brewed coffee fills the air down the hallways of Elkhart High School’s Freshman Campus, as Hart City Coffee Company employees grind and serve delicious brews.

The non-profit started up just as the pandemic reared its head here in the United States, and while it threw their plans off in the beginning, it didn’t stop them from pushing their mission forward. The company was born out of a need to find placement and jobs for young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 with special needs.

The Owner, Trisha Hutchison, noticed many of those recent graduates were being turned down while looking for employment opportunities. So, she took matters into her own hands to bash the stigma, showing they’re just as capable, hardworking and dedicated as anyone else.

“I approached my boss and asked him if we could just start our own business. If we couldn’t get anyone else to hire them, let’s just make our own business and we will hire all of them! And so that’s how Hart city coffee company was born, it was born out of purpose to find jobs for our student and to give them the job experiences they need to go out after they leave us and find gainful employment,” Hart City Coffee Company Owner Trisha Hutchison said.

Their mission is to build a strong community that believes in inclusion, provide jobs with purpose, and form meaningful relationships.

Hart City Coffee Company sells their product at local community events, like the Farmer’s Market, and you can even order grounds of your favorite flavors and have them delivered right to your doorstep. They run solely on donations, and everything is made from scratch!

First, they weigh the coffee beans before grinding it up into their bright blue bags. Next, they seal the bag to make sure no pesky grounds have a way to escape. Finally, they slap a label on the package with one of their Hart City Coffee Company logo stickers, and fill out and sign off on the order form.

Employees at Hart City Coffee say, the fun of making the coffee is just part of what makes this business so unique.

“I enjoy all of this and my friends,” Hart City Coffee Company Employee Dawn said. “My favorite thing is all my teachers that are helping me doing my social skills.”

“I grind coffee over there with Mrs. Sage, she’s my favorite, and Megan is my favorite. They’re my best friends,” Hart City Coffee Company Employee Megan said.

The unemployment rate for those enrolled in individualized education programs is 85% in the state of Indiana. However, this year, for this program specifically, they have a 100% employment rate.

Hutchison says, this business is one of the most important things in her life.

“Each one of these kids gets to do something every day that gives them purpose,” Hutchison said. “It’s very humbling to me. I’ve…I’ve done this kind of work for about 35 years now and I can honestly tell you that this is the second most important thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. Outside of being a mom, this is my purpose. This is what I was put here to do and we have no place to go but up!”

If you are interested in purchasing a bag of coffee for yourself, you can click here!

You can also visit their Facebook page, or website for more information.

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