Dialogue Coffee Shop
“Coffee and friends make a perfect blend.” The rain comes down on the sidewalk as I walk into Dialogue Coffee House. Greeted by kind faces and the smell of freshly made danishes -- I forget for a moment it is raining outside. The place radiates sunshine, happiness, and servanthood.
Order a foamy latte, a cookie, and wait to be served by an employee with an intellectual or developmental disability. Everything about Dialogue highlights diversity and inclusion. EMBRACE, marked in bold letters on a hat behind the counter, is the perfect description for the culture of the coffee house.
Kylie takes my order, George makes my coffee, and Harry shakes my hand as he sets my iced coffee in front of me with a smile, asking my name, and does the same for every customer that walks in.
At 20 years old, Caitlyn Halsey has opened a coffee shop to include her friends with a variety of abilities and give them employment opportunity. Her vision began in high school as she worked at Washburn Rural High School’s “Common Grounds” coffee shop, and became involved in Circle of Friends, a club committed to promoting inclusion among general education students and their special needs peers on campuses.
You can find every inch of the coffee shop promoted to embracing inclusion. Jumpy Monkey, the coffee beans Dialogue uses, employs individuals with disabilities in Iowa. The blend is called the “Conversation Starter” to embrace dialogue diversity in the community.
As I wrap up my interview with Caitlyn, I think of all the people in the community who have benefited from her work and bravery to open up a shop so young. She talks about the holiday season, and I picture the walls lined with happy faces to receive a warm latte, and potentially a hug from an employee.