Four coffee-cart guys give it their best shot

November 30, 2020

Four young guys in a coffee cart are brewing their best coffee and learning what it takes to make a living.

Nathan Owre, Adam Faithful, Ruairidh Morrison and Callum Boyd each have a disability and haven’t found it easy to walk into jobs in Whangārei. But their coffee-cart business is giving them a shot at being employed and providing a service doing something they love.

When summer holidaymakers return to Northland this year, the guys will be there on the side of the road in their coffee cart, encouraging drivers to stop as part of the ‘Driver Reviver’ fatigue stops programme run by the Northland Regional Council and Northland Road Safety.

This summer, they will be making their flat whites, long blacks, cappuccinos and mochas in a brand-new coffee machine. The IHC Foundation has contributed $5000 towards the $7000 price tag and the machine is likely to be installed by Christmas, with the guys trained and ready to go for the holiday season.

They started the fatigue stops at Labour Weekend and have since worked a couple of truck stops with WorkSafe New Zealand, Police, the regional council and St John giving the truck drivers hot drinks and sausages.

Nathan, who admits to preferring hot chocolate, says he gets plenty of practice making coffee at home. “I make Mum a lot of coffees. I make coffees every morning,” he says. “I don’t drink coffee; I tried it before.”

His brother Torben works as a barista in Melbourne and Nathan is enjoying being in the same line of work. But Nathan likes the ‘front-of-house’ role best – taking the orders.

 

 

His Mum, Rachel Hill, who works as a career coach, says she was keen for Nathan to experience all the benefits that a fulfilling job can bring, such as developing skills and social networks and having his talents recognised.

But she says the opportunities for longer-term employment for Nathan in Auckland were limited. So, the family shifted to Whangārei. “We thought it would be better for him to be in a small community,” she says.

Rachel thought self-employment was the way to go, and when she saw a coffee cart advertised, she bought it. “We didn’t have a business plan. We thought we would just do it and see what happens.”

Rachel and Alison Faithful, mother of Adam, started the Taimahi Trust to give their sons, who both have Down syndrome, worthwhile employment, and they soon involved Callum and Ruairidh.

Rachel says that at the start each of the young men found a job in the coffee cart that suited their natural abilities. Nathan was front of house because he was very comfortable talking to customers. Ruairidh was good with handling the money. “Now they can do all the positions. It has taken three years to get to that point.

“Their ability to work as a team – to see what needs doing and doing it – has exponentially grown,” Rachel says.

“We love to go out with the boys. My husband [Paul Dunbar] takes time off work too. It’s a bit of a family affair.”

Rachel has seen the difference it has made to Nathan. “I think it gives him self-esteem.  He’s got pride in it. He loves telling people about the coffee cart.”

Through the trust, Rachel and Alison plan to set up other employment opportunities for young people in Whangārei. “The idea was that we would set up little businesses for these kids.”

But Rachel says their plans to establish a training facility for hospitality have been delayed by the pandemic. “It would be a commercial kitchen where they learn all the skills that they need to deliver food. It’s all been interrupted by COVID like everything else in the world.”

Top: Callum Boyd, Nathan Owre and Adam Faithful enjoy hanging out and encouraging drivers to take a break from the road.

Above: Callum Boyd enjoying serving coffees for customers