There’s a coffee shop in Little Falls that hires people with disabilities to give them training and employment opportunities they might not otherwise get. The shop, Ethan and the Bean, is named for the owner’s son, Ethan, who had aged out of the education system.

Ethan has autism, is non-verbal, and also has epilepsy. His mom, Pam Donovan, started Ethan and the Bean as pilot program out of a church basement and it took off from there. She told New Jersey Monthly that she “set up a website with no idea exactly what we were going to do or how we were going to do it.”

With the help of a Montclair roaster, Java Love, she set up shop in November of 2019; for a time she partnered with Caldwell University’s autism program to help find and train prospective employees. Now, over fifty percent of Ethan and the Bean’s workers have some sort of intellectual or developmental disability. According to their website, “We want to train and employ a significant number of persons with intellectual or developmental delays, become a treasured asset within the community, and change the way people see those special souls challenged by disabilities.”

Ethan and the Bean (Where Hope is Always Brewing!) is non-profit. Donovan told New Jersey Monthly that the shop uses the principles of ABA (applied behavioral analysis), tailored to each trainee’s individual needs and strengths. She said that they aren’t hiring right now, but that the shop is willing to help like-minded people; you can contact them here.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.