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Deaf Can Coffee Finds a Permanent Home at Jakes

Now, at Jakes, you can order the island’s best tasting espresso-based beverages while supporting hearing-impaired young adults.

Each morning start the day with a fresh cup of Jamaican joe. Nestled into a corner of the porch at Jakes, Jamaica’s Deaf Can Coffee has set up a permanent caffeination station, bringing a taste of third-wave coffee culture to Treasure Beach while providing economic opportunities to Deaf young adults. Grab a cup to go and wander out to take in the sea views. Or settle in at the tables to read a book while you sip. Americano, café latte, or cold coffee frappé — whichever way you enjoy your brew, you’ll be supporting the local Deaf community.

The social enterprise Deaf Can Coffee started three years ago when students from Kingston visited a Deaf coffee farmer in the Top Hill district, in St. Elizabeth Parish. Touring the farm of Everlin Clarke, the students were inspired to believe that they too could be successful in the coffee industry not in spite of their disability, but because being Deaf allows for heightened sense of taste, smell, touch and visual acumen that gives a Deaf barista an edge in making the best cup of coffee!

“That field trip is what got them excited about coffee,” recalls Blake Widmer, co-founder of Deaf Can Coffee. “After the trip, the kids started experimenting with coffee drinks. And that grew.” This past March, Deaf Can set up a trial pop-up at Jakes. It went so well, that now the porch at Jakes is going to be a permanent outpost serving their island-grown coffee roasted by Deaf youth in Kingston.

From the roasters to the baristas, Deaf Can is empowering Jamaica’s Deaf community. Two trained baristas from Kingston have been staying at Jakes, showing the ropes to Omar Reid. “Along with serving a great cup of coffee, Omar loves teaching people words and phrases in sign language,” says Widmer. “Jakes is all about working with local people, local products and delivering an unforgettable experience. We want our baristas to be a part of that.”

What’s the next for Deaf Can in St. Elizabeth? “The end game is to engage, equip and empower more Deaf youth across the parish and, ultimately, the island,” explains Widmer. “And that includes placing more baristas at more locations while raising the bar for coffee culture.”

Deaf Can at Jakes serves from 7 am to 7 pm daily.

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