Coffee with a purpose

Posted on March 14, 2023


For Whole Latte Love Café, January 2023 marked one year of serving coffee, celebrating diversity and empowering people with disabilities.

The North Canton-based nonprofit provides a safe, supportive working environment in a café setting for persons with developmental disabilities (referred to as trainees) to learn workforce readiness and social skills through on-the-job training.

When asked what her goal is for trainees in the program, founder and executive director of Whole Latte Love Café Beth Humbert shared: “We want to build them up and watch them fly.”


At the beginning of the vocational training program, trainees identify their career goals and interests. Some would like to work in customer service and interact with people daily, whereas others would like to be behind the scenes. From there, a job coach helps determine which position at the café would set them up for success while teaching them transferable skills.

Under the direct supervision of a job coach, Stark County trainees work in four key positions: cashier, barista, food prep and dishwasher. 

Trainees are empowered to create monthly drink specials, allowing them to use their creativity to handcraft a coffee and give it a special name. Barista-in-training Arianna recently created a customer fan favorite Witches Brew, which combines Nutella, coffee and milk. 

Through person-centered training, trainees develop work readiness skills like responsibility and problem-solving, increase their social interaction, explore their interests and build confidence and independence. The program is a way to help those with disabilities who cannot successfully gain or retain employment on their own to enter the labor force with dignity and inclusion with others in society.

The café intentionally does not have a drive-thru because part of the experience is customers seeing the smiling faces of the trainees making their drinks.

"Our mission is to change the way people view, include, respect, value and accept other people," said Beth. 

The unique program is a time-limited opportunity, meaning trainees are expected to work two to five years at the café before transitioning to competitive employment in the community.


Beth was inspired by her youngest daughter, Caroline, to create Whole Latte Love Café. Caroline, who has autism, graduated from Hoover High School in 2018 and now works at the café. 

“Caroline simply taught our family to look at life through another lens,” said Beth. 

Beth became acutely aware of the need for paid, supportive employment services after spending over 20 years in the field of
vocational rehabilitation assisting, advocating and creating jobs for job seekers with disabilities and her own family’s journey.

Students like Caroline, who depended on an individualized education program (IEP) during high school for extra attention and help, have little to no guidance and support after they graduate.

Many have difficulty transitioning to adulthood and navigating the sense of independence that comes with it. Some find it challenging to complete a job application or cannot get to work because they don’t drive. 

The supported employment program offered through Whole Latte Love Café addresses the needs of adults with an intellectual or developmental disability who are transitioning to life after high school. Beth and her team aim to remove old stigmas and barriers, empower Caroline and her peers to pursue a path toward greater independence and bring more awareness to the community through specialized job training and community support.

getting started

Beth started researching a supported employment model in 2017 and worked closely with SCORE Canton to fine-tune her business plan, legally establish a nonprofit and form a board. She later signed a lease in November 2019 at the café’s current location on South Main Street in North Canton, and then the pandemic hit in March 2020.

“Although it was a challenging time, it turned out to be a blessing,” added Beth. “It gave us more time to raise money.”

Within two years, the café raised enough money to renovate the facility, hire and train employees and further develop the specialized job training program. The café officially opened its doors in January  2022 with no debt and ended the year in the black.

Today, the paid vocational training program employs 22 people in Stark County, and future plans for the nonprofit café are brewing.

Future Plans

Plans are underway to lease the space directly to the north of the café to expand its services. The new expansion project will feature a training room to address individual employment goals, a public rentable conference room, future space for high school
programming, as well as office and storage space. More details about the project will be shared at its upcoming fundraiser on March 31.

Beth shared, “we are the friendliest, most warm-hearted café, and we want you to leave 100% lifted.”

Learn more about the café at

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