The Blog of 33 & Elm Coffee House

Coffee & COVID-19?



download (1)

This wasn’t the way we wanted things to start out. We were so close to the finish line. Construction was finishing up, equipment was going to be delivered, baristas were being hired and here comes a pandemic. Who would have guessed? First we quarantined the coffee shop since we could not be certain the safety guidelines our staff was following would be followed by every outside worker who set foot in the building in the area closest to some of the most vulnerable folks working in the entire building. Some of the coffee shop’s staff is also immune compromised so they took this time to work from home or care for their children using their vacation time or unpaid time. It was a difficult time for everyone. Our vendors had mostly closed, though some remained opened part-time for curbside delivery. The state was still on a mandatory essential business only track and the schools were all still closed. Some restaurants still had drive thru lines and curbside pick up but most everything else was shut down. It was a strange and scary time. The grocery stores were empty of basic needs like toilet paper, milk, meat, soap and cleaning agents.

So we waited. Again. We would open on another safer day.


While we wait

(Photo: IOB employees sew US Army masks.)

Industries of the Blind has picked up some more essential work in the midst of this pandemic. We are now creating masks for the US Army. 450,000 camouflage face masks over this year. Seems like they are preparing for the long haul or maybe just in case. That’s a lot of masks hand made by visually impaired folks. Pretty cool.

(Photo: Two different types of camouflaged US Army face masks sewn by IOB.)

Construction Stall

This whole COVID-19 virus came out of nowhere or somewhere but we weren’t prepared to stop construction and wait. We were ready to get equipment in and roll out the red carpet. We had to send away our construction crew due to the threat of contamination. Safety first. So we look in the darkened windows of the coffee shop and know that we will just have to wait for the governor to give the ok to continue with business. Industries of the Blind is essential and construction is essential but to us, safety is also essential so we will let things cool down a bit before starting back up. Members of our construction crew have traveled recently and some have been in contact with folks from other countries. We wait as patiently as we can while drinking coffee. 🙂

The Hiring


(Photo: architectural drawing of cafe)

It’s finally that time; the hiring time!!! We have been taking applications from within Industries of the Blind for a short while now and it has been exciting seeing the hopeful faces of the candidates. We’ve had some good conversations and I’ve made a few new friends. I am pretty excited about the dynamic of the employees that will be working in the coffee house. They are friendly, eager to learn, ambitious, and pretty inspirational with their varying stories of courage. It’s going to be a fun group and I think this will be a really good thing.

The Faema Teorema

(Photo: Kelly, Richard and Laverne from Industries of the Blind listen as Reiko from Fortuna Enterprizes explains the function of our new espresso machine.)

(Photo: Richard holds a portafilter while Kelly asks a question while standing in front of the espresso machine.)

(Photo: Laverne stands in front of the espresso machine feeling the heat it emits.)

Our new espresso machine has officially been tried out and purchased. It’s pretty darn cool. We took a field trip today over to our friends at Fortuna to try out the machine with a couple of friends with varying degrees of visual impairment.  It was also completely new for me and I am sighted. This is one fancy yet simple “latest” model space variety coffee pressurizer. It’s incredibly user friendly, it’s clean and stylish, it’s SAFE and efficient. It’s also smart, which is a whole new ballpark for me having only worked on fully manual machines decades ago. This model also has the ability to be put in manual mode if so desired. It can be programmed as your heart desires! I think it will be perfect for what we aim to achieve.

A little bit longer



(Photo: Front of Industries of the Blind building)

Another week has ticked by and no new news regarding the building of the cafe. Patience might be a virtue, but it’s not fun! All kidding aside, we are hoping to get city approval for the updated architectural drawings around June 1st. Once we move past that step, we will be on our way to demolition and construction beginning. It will be one very busy place for the weeks that the contractors are working. Lots of dust and walls falling and flooring being replaced. Lots of excitement! I can’t wait!


We wait…


(Photo: Inside of 33 & Elm Coffee House unfinished pallet sign)

The coffee house is slowly taking form. It’s tough drinking this much coffee and being patient when we want it open soon, but the city makes the rules and we must abide. *SIGH*

We are hoping that construction will begin around the beginning of June and will hopefully know more regarding the opening of the shop by then. If all goes well, we plan to open internally in August 2019 and have our grand opening for the general public in October.