Tue | Jan 28, 2020

Deaf Can Coffee brews up a storm

Published:Friday | April 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMJanelle Oswald
Wadia Barnes (left) and Anesa Nesbeth sporting warm smiles for the camera.
From left: Carlyle Gabbidon, Trevest Kew, Fabian Jackson, Javannie Dawes and Oimel Bellen, pose behind the counter inside Deaf Can Coffee shop.
Carlyle Gabbidon (left) and Fabian Jackson are ready to enjoy their cup of coffee.

Two young men are leading the way in the Jamaican coffee business by inspiring customers with each sip. They serve a variety of coffee drinks, ranging from espresso to lattes, frappuccino and cappuccino, inside a swanky, new coffee shop at the Caribbean Christian Centre of the Deaf, 4 Cassia Park Road.

Sponsored by the Digicel Foundation which met the inspiring team and took it under its wings donating all equipment and furnishings, the cafe is like no other.

True to its ethos, the entire shop was constructed by deaf professionals, from carpenter to tiler, as well as graphic and website designer.

"We want everybody who comes in here to see that the 'deaf can'," said Jackson.

Destined for greatness, the coffee company can accommodate 15-20 people and also be hired as a mobile beverage pop-up cafe.

Manger Carlyle Gabbidon and assistant manager Fabian Jackson from Deaf Can Coffee are brewing up a storm as they make Jamaican coffee with a difference and redefine what is 'good coffee'.

Through its message, "deaf people can do all things", the coffee shop challenges the status quo and perception of people who believe the deaf are less capable of achieving success, especially in business.

"Deaf Can Coffee is coffee with a message," said Gabbidon, who is from St Thomas. "The deaf can, too, - just like you, including making the best cup of coffee to help start your day or keep you revived throughout the day, said Gabbidon.


Capability and power


The duo stresses that the word "can" in their business name is not symbolic of "a container/coffee cup," rather, it is an acknowledgement of their capability and the power of "I am" reflected in their favourite Bible passage, "Philippians 4:13 - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'.

Jackson, a St Mary native, told

The Gleaner: "Deaf Can Coffee will help to shift the mindset of Jamaicans and others, and show coffee drinkers that the deaf can do anything.

"We want to use our business as a tool to demonstrate what it is like when deaf people are doing it for themselves. We also want people to realise they can communicate, sign and gesture with us, thereby showing the world who we are and what we do."

The coffee entrepreneurs revealed how they became baristas.

"Everlin Clarke is our inspiration. Without him we would not be here.

He is the first person to set up a deaf coffee business in Jamaica and he told us when he passes away we must continue his legacy, so here we are," said Gabbidon.

Their mantra, 'Engage, equip and empower', evolved at the start of their business. They used the ideas Clarke shared with them as motivation us to become tomorrow's coffee leaders. Since then, they have evolved and developed their skills.

"We have equipped ourselves with knowledge and have become certified baristas. In fact, Caribbean Christian Centre of the Deaf are leaders in training baristas. Knowledge brings power and we now stand empowered."

A great cup brew, Jackson disclosed, starts with the plant followed by the roast. Light and dark roast tastes different. Good coffee is also dependent on how it is stored and sealed.

"Coffee should not be exposed to air because it affects the flavour; if ground coffee is too fine, or too thick, it will not brew properly.

You need the right balance between a coarse and thin grind.

To have a beautiful creme, the shot of espresso must be extracted properly and the foam on top must retain all its micro bubbles. Only when that is achieved, will you achieve the proper art of latte," he said.

Gabbidon encourages everyone to "think positively and stand up for yourselves".

Through Deaf Can Coffee, the owners are aiming to eliminate the belief that deaf people are broken and need to be fixed, make deaf children believe in themselves, and create a culture which is inclusive of the hearing and the deaf.