Purely Local CT 2021

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Community

Connecting E E F F O C H G ROU TH

I Love Coffee is a coffee brand staffed by Deaf employees - and a bridge between hearing and Deaf people to engage and connect over a freshlyroasted cup of coffee. Did you know that 5% of South Africa’s population is Deaf? And that 70-80% of Deaf adults are unemployed? I Love Coffee is a social enterprise that aims to broaden the horizons of SA’s Deaf community through skills development and training, and create inclusive working environments in their cafés where Deaf employees can engage with the hearing in a safe space. I Love Coffee opened in 2016 and was founded by Gary Hopkins and Mike MorrittSmith. Education is a vital part of what the I Love Coffee team does, and they’re in the process of accrediting their hospitality training through FoodBev SETA. “I Love Coffee is pretty unique in the sense that we provide training for the Deaf in their own language - the Deaf train the Deaf,”

says Gary. “Historically educators, particularly at school level, are hearing, with a poor grasp of Sign Language. We have upskilled our original baristas to become trainers teaching both the theory and the practical skills required to be a barista, which requires a far greater focus on the visual elements of making coffee.” Just before lockdown, the group had nine cafés operating – including on-site corporate cafes in offices around SA, all staffed by Deaf baristas, chefs, kitchen staff – making them the largest-group of Deaf-run cafes in the world. However, they can now add a new claim: that of being the only coffee brand in the world where the coffee is roasted, packed, made and served by the Deaf. At the start of lockdown, I Love Coffee was

To find out how to sign your order, visit www.ilovecoffeegroup.co.za/greetings-gestures

forced to close all their sites, with the very real possibility that some of the in-office cafes would not reopen. Gary and Mike had always planned for the business to have three pillars – coffee roastery, central kitchen supplying food and training academy – and now they had the opportunity to make it happen. “We immediately turned our attention to completing our central kitchen in Claremont, Cape Town,” says Gary. “In May our imported 1968 Probat roaster arrived at port and Mike MorrittSmith, our head roaster and jack of all trades, set about restoring her to her former glory.” Currently the Claremont branch is the only café open to the general public and it’s quickly gaining a following. “Everything we sell is made on site and we’re getting a lot of attention from locals who can’t get enough of our croissants, sourdough loaves, filled bagels and delicious pies and tarts. The spread really has to be seen to be believed,” says Gary. “We recently spruced up our outdoor area so we encourage customers to join us for breakfast or to grab basket full of goodies and picnic in the park across the road." So the next time you’re craving a caffeine fix, head down to Claremont for some of the finest in SA. Not only will you be supporting an initiative that’s changing the lives of one of SA’s largest communities (over 4 million people in South Africa are deaf or hard of hearing) but you’ll be opening up your world as well.

Did you know? We write Deaf with capital “D” almost 100% of the time. Just like different groups of people who share language or culture are written with capitals - like Xhosa, Afrikaans or Italian - the same goes for the Deaf community who share Sign Languages and a unique culture. Deaf is only used in its lower-case form by doctors to show the medical term for someone with deafness.

Get involved

"Deafness isn't a disabilty. It's a culture and a community."

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I Love Coffee Academy, Roastery & Café 103 Garfield Road Claremont Monday to Friday 7:30am to 4pm @ILoveCoffeeGroup ilovecoffeegroup.co.za


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