321 Coffee: Inclusive Employment, With a Latte to Go

By Steve Unruhe

Trinity Park’s newest neighborhood coffee shop, 321 Coffee, is built on inclusion. Located at 300 Morris Street at the base of the Durham ID (Innovation District) building, 321 currently employs over 50 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Durham and Raleigh. They are the ones roasting the coffee, taking the orders, making the lattes. and demonstrating the value of an inclusive business model. 

“It feels very hopeful and encouraging to see Durham support the next generation of kids with Down syndrome and for them to see me working at as an adult and role model with Down syndrome,” said Emma, a Lead Barista.

The company was founded in 2017 by Lindsay Wrege and Michael Evans. The two met during their freshman year as Park Scholars at NC State University. They had the vision to build a company founded on inclusion. 

The company started in Raleigh and opened the Morris Street location a few months ago. Wrege is delighted to be in Durham. “I’ve always admired how forward-thinking the Durham community is, and I’ve always wanted to have our mission and people as a part of that. I think we contribute to what Durham stands for, and I think we will grow from being in this environment. Our shop has been open for a few months, and I love seeing the friendships that have already started to grow between our staff and regular customers.” 

(On a personal note, I can vouch for the quality of the coffee and the shop is an excellent spot for a quiet meeting).

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