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Cookeville’s Exceptional Bean Celebrates First Anniversary And Success

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville’s Exceptional Bean Celebrates First Anniversary And Success

Owners Cigi and Michael England started the Exceptional Bean Coffee Shop to provide employment and community for people with special needs and disabilities last summer.

Within the first year they found that everyone was more capable than anticipated. Cigi England said workers found that they could do more, and England learned that the plan to have a worker assistant was unnecessary.

“And we’ve had a handful that said I can only be the drink caller, I can only be the greeter,” England said. “And now they are doing all the positions. They are running the cash register and they are using the equipment and actually being a barista.”

England said one team member had recently been promoted to third key which means he is a closing manager. She said she definitively credits her husband Michael. She said he is hands on with the team every day.

She said Michael England is the cheerleader, the one who is always supportive and encouraging. She said he is the one who encourages people to try things out.

“And I think once you have someone who is supportive and encouraging and you feel safe and you’re not intimidated,” England said. “Then why wouldn’t you try it.”

England said another side of that support is employee birthdays. She said they have birthday parties after hours for the employees. England said no matter what shift you work, this is a chance for everyone to spend time together like a family and celebrate.

England said the one downside to all of this is that although they have had no employee turnover, they do not have positions for the some 150 applications that they have received. She said the only way to give jobs to these potential employees is to grow in some way.

“In order to grow, because we are a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, we don’t know what that looks like,” England said. “We’re going to have to do some fundraising if we want to do another location or a coffee truck. Anything outside of our building is going to have to be done through fundraising.”

England said that is how the Exceptional Bean originally opened a year ago. She said the community donated everything in the shop.

England said she wants to remind everyone that the Bean provides employment to more than 30 special needs individuals and you can support this mission by coming in and buying a cup of coffee or going on line and making a donation at





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