CUP to Become Tampa’s First Cafe Staffed by Baristas With Special Needs  

Coffee Uniting People, the non-profit behind CUP, says an inclusive coffee shop that employs those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is “long overdue.”
CUP to Become Tampa’s First Cafe Staffed by Baristas With Special Needs
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The Tampa-based non-profit Coffee Uniting People, aka CUP, recently signed a lease for its first coffee shop located at 3408 S Dale Mabry Hwy, with the hopes of opening in late fall or shortly after the new year, says founder Greg Jones.

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“We’re very excited about this opportunity to provide employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Jones tells What Now Tampa. “It’s long overdue in the Tampa area and the state, and hopefully this will be the first of many locations that will positively affect the lives of many.”

According to Jones, the non-profit recently secured its lease for the space and already has a construction team in place with plans to begin permitting soon. Overseeing operations at the coffee shop will be Stephanie Williams, a former instructor at Pepin Academies, a chain of special education schools in Tampa. 

Founded in 2021 and earning its 501(c)(3) status earlier this year, CUP is dedicated to developing a chain of inclusive coffee shops that serve as a “Starbucks-like facility with special needs and non-special needs employees.”

However, although CUP is responding to an “overwhelming need for our community to provide integrated and inclusive employment opportunities,” its mission certainly doesn’t begin and end with employment. Ultimately, the non-profit “[hopes] that through CUP, we will raise enough money to create an integrated living center here in Tampa, [that] would provide housing and services to people with and without disabilities.”

Drew Pittock

Drew Pittock is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA. He’s covered music, culture, and plant-based cuisine for various media outlets from Beijing to Tallinn and beyond. He currently lives in El Paso, TX with his wife and their cat.
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