Blog: Making Coffee with No Ears

Being told I’m dumb for working in the cafe world since I am deaf, has not stopped me from doing my best for customers, helping them change their mindsets and bringing hope to those who feel like there’s no hope.

My name is Julianne Russ, I am 28 years old and manage Co’Ed Cafe on Kings in Lower Hutt. I am profoundly deaf, which means I can’t hear at all but I can lipread and wear a cochlear implant. These help SO much and have given me the confidence to serve customers and not panic. I still have my moments where I have to ask customers three times what they have said! But overall I have found that our beloved country, New Zealand, is patient and understanding and lets me try my best for them.

I used to think, “what am I doing working in a cafe when I could be a builder or help people overseas and build them houses as I love to help people?”. But since I love making coffee I’ve never left that world and have worked with coffee for more than 15 years now.

I have come to realise that I CAN make a difference through coffee!

I have seen hope rise within not only deaf people but people who have lost all confidence in themselves and believe that they can’t be good at anything, through the work of my amazing bosses who have gone the extra mile to spend time to teach anyone and everyone about coffee because they believe anyone can do it!

So I have been privileged to help and teach a variety of people with differing abilities, not only to make coffee but to communicate and understand customers, which helps to remove misunderstanding between cultures and reminds people that we are all the same! It’s all about understanding one another and that people do things differently and there’s no right or wrong!

Through coffee and customer service I have found hope in myself and realise that I can be a part of whatever community I choose to be a part of.

It is OK to be confused or not understand but we can learn from one another and accept one another as we are. That’s where it all started with coffee for me!

Drawing of hands holding coffee beans

Julz is the manager at Co’Ed Cafe on Kings in Lower Hutt in Wellington, New Zealand. For more about barista and cafe training for people with differing abilities, check out Coffee Educators online now.


Do you have something say about disability, coffee and employment?

Flick us an email, we’d love to hear from you!


This Saturday we'll be joining a bunch of other amazing disability social enterprises at the Illuminate Night Market in Mt Albert. We'll be selling all sorts of treats - from bags of TLF coffee, to TLF Bush Honey, plunger packs, as well as hot coffee by the cup. Swing by for a great family-friendly, inclusive event!

[Image description: Four TLF photos shared by Recreate NZ - Top left is Grace and Robbie running a TLF market stall. Top right is a bag of TLF coffee and a flat white in a white mug. Lower left is Don Epifanio, a coffee farmer partner from Mexico peering through leaves and cherries on a coffee tree. Lower right is a TLF fundraiser poster that reads 'The best coffee of all is coffee for all'.]

#TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #DisabilityEmployment #InclusiveCoffee #SocialEnterprise #EnvironmentalRegeneration #FilterCoffeeNotPeople
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Congratulations to TLF founder and director Dr Robbie Francis Watene for being awarded the #HerAbilities Award in Rights!The #HerAbilities Award in Rights goes to 🥁

Dr. Robbie Francis Watene! Robbie is a leading disability rights activist from New Zealand. She founded The Lucy Foundation, an international social business that promotes inclusion and diversity in the global coffee industry. The jury agree: “she is an amazing role model and a super smart businesswoman.” Congratulations 🎊
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

3 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Disability inclusive✅
Environmentally regenerative✅
Simply delicious ✅

Purchase freshly roasted coffee beans (Pluma single origin or Lucy blend) through our website, and the roaster will donate $5 per kg back to our charitable objectives.

www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out

[Image description: A vase shaped like Frida Kahlo filled with dried flowers sits between a compostable TLF bag of coffee and a freshly brewed TLF mug of coffee. In the foreground is a wooden spoon overflowing with TLF coffee beans. The background is a white tiled bench and wall.]
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

4 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Our first harvest! 😋 Delicious, nutritious and locally grown by our amazing team in Pluma Hidalgo! These types of productive projects not only create inclusion for people with disabilities, but they also generate food autonomy and employment!

Thank you New Zealand Embassy for your support in helping make this happen!

Primera cosecha de nuestros hongos! 😋 Deliciosos, nutritivos y cultivados localmente por nuestro increíble equipo en Pluma Hidalgo. Este tipo de proyectos productivos no sólo crean inclusión para las personas con discapacidad, sino que generan autonomía alimentaria y empleo!

Gracias a la Embajada de Nueva Zelanda por su apoyo para hacer esto posible!

#thelucyfoundation #PlumaHidalgo #disabilityemployment #newzealand #mexicooaxaca #thebestcoffeeofalliscoffeeforall #mushroomsoaxaca
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

The Lucy Foundation

Sharing moments with TLF members and women of the community. This is a project brought to Pluma by Mary of the Mermejita Circus, where she invites women to explore with movement and body therapy.

Compartiendo momentos con miembros de TLF y mujeres de la comunidad. Este es un proyecto que nos viene a compartir Mary del Circo Mermejita, donde invita a las mujeres a explorar con el movimiento y terapia corporal.

#PlumaHidalgo #thelucyfoundation #inclusivecommunity #FelizAñoNuevo #PlumaCoffeeProject #DisabilityRightsAreHumanRights
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook
© 2021 The Lucy Foundation.