The Coffee Shed Creating Opportunity

There are many individuals and businesses that go unnoticed for their remarkable contributions and positive effects in our community. We would like to recognize an individual and business that has changed the lives of many and opened doors for people to be able to do things that they once thought were impossible. This man is Gerald Fantone and the business is The Coffee Shed.

Gerald is the job coach, manager, and mentor at The Coffee Shed. This coffee shop, which currently has three locations in Toronto, was founded in 2001 by the Common Ground Co-operative. The Coffee Sheds are “business partnerships” of people with developmental disabilities, such as; autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome. This partnership has allowed these challenged individuals to create opportunities for employment, by using their skills and talents to help run all three The Coffee Sheds.

Gerald has recently wrapped up an online fundraising campaign that has raised money to launch a barista training program for all The Coffee Shed partners. The program will begin in the months ahead and will turn the current staff members at each shop into completely developed baristas. The campaign was called “Made by Mavericks” and raised $5,600 for the program. This money will contribute to a commercial-grade espresso machine, a grinder, other coffee accessories, and fund the training program in collaboration with other barista institutes across the city.

The impact that this program will have on these amazing individuals is extremely significant. It will help them to further develop their current skill set and give them even more opportunities down the road to find employment at other conventional coffee shops. With coffee shop popularity booming in Toronto, the opportunity is heightened considerably.

The Coffee Shed sells confectionary items, baked goods, and freshly brewed coffee, as well as sandwiches and salads that are prepared daily. The coffee is organically grown fair trade coffee, without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, which supports the staff and the environment. It truly is an amazing addition to our community. Thank you, Gerald!

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