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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Meet Zeng Zheng, a Barista with a Unique Perspective on Coffee”

ChinaMeet Zeng Zheng, a Barista with a Unique Perspective on Coffee"

Zeng Zheng, a barista from Chongqing Municipality in southwest China, has a unique perspective on the taste of coffee. While many people find it ordinary, and some even sour or bitter, Zeng and his colleagues who are also hearing-impaired, have discovered the rich and diverse flavors that coffee has to offer. They have developed an acute sense of taste, which enables them to identify subtle differences in flavor that others may not notice.

According to Zeng, the sweetness of coffee can also vary in different forms. Some are immediately sweet on the palate, while others may initially seem bitter but eventually turn sweet. This is a testament to the complexity of coffee and the nuances of taste that can be discerned by those who pay attention.

Zeng’s life experiences have also influenced his perception of coffee. Losing his hearing was a bitter experience, but his new career as a barista has given him a renewed sense of purpose and positivity. Working alongside other hearing-impaired individuals at the “Yijiao Caf,” an inclusive coffee shop located at Songshan General Hospital, has given him a new community and a chance to showcase his talents.

The “Yijiao Caf” is an example of how inclusive workplaces can provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The coffee shop provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for hearing-impaired individuals, where they can work and showcase their talents. In addition to being a unique coffee shop, it is also a symbol of hope for individuals with disabilities who may struggle to find employment.

The café, which is named “One Corner Café,” is part of a small chain with two branches. The name of the café was inspired by the popular children’s book, “The Missing Piece,” written by Shel Silverstein. The book features a circular character that is missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself and sets out on a journey to find it. The story ultimately teaches an important life lesson about self-acceptance and finding happiness within oneself.

The circular character’s journey to find the missing piece is a metaphor for the search for completeness and happiness in life. In the beginning, the character believes that finding the missing piece is the key to happiness. However, as the story progresses, it learns that true happiness comes from within and that accepting one’s imperfections and quirks is the key to a fulfilling life.

The café’s name and the story behind it serve as a reminder to customers that imperfections are a part of being human and that acceptance is key to finding happiness. The café provides a welcoming and inclusive environment where customers can come to enjoy coffee and food while also being reminded of the importance of self-acceptance and self-love.

Zhu Jiayun, the founder of a charity for people with disabilities in Chongqing’s Yuzhong District, established a brand in May 2022. The brand aimed to provide employment opportunities for people with hearing disabilities by hiring them as baristas. Zhu believes that everyone has a missing corner in their life. Some may feel a lack of love, while others may struggle to attain their career goals. However, Zhu’s philosophy is that life should not be about pursuing perfection, but about embracing our imperfections and enjoying our lives.

At Zhu’s café, hearing-impaired baristas serve customers by passing a writing pad to them for their orders. Some more experienced customers use simple sign language to convey their gratitude. Despite the language barrier, the intense aroma of coffee, along with an array of flavors, binds the customers and staff together.

Zeng, one of the hearing-impaired baristas, took a moment to savor a cup of coffee brewed by one of his colleagues. During a quiet moment behind the counter, he wrote down his impressions in a little notebook. He then shared his findings with others using his phone. This interaction is a testament to the power of coffee to bring people together, regardless of their background or abilities.

Zhu’s café not only provides employment opportunities for people with hearing disabilities, but it also promotes inclusivity and diversity. By creating an environment where everyone is accepted and valued, Zhu hopes to encourage people to embrace their imperfections and enjoy their lives. The café serves as an inspiration for others to follow suit and make a positive impact in their communities.

Zeng, a 40-year-old man, has developed a passion for fragrances and tastes. He often visits different places around the city, including flower and fruit markets, to discover new aromas and flavors. He types to ask if you’ve tasted lemon, citrus, and Michelia alba yet, indicating his deep appreciation for the complexity of scents and flavors.

Before discovering the world of fragrances, Zeng led a simple life without much interest in this area. However, everything changed after he discovered coffee. It has now become his new obsession and has opened up a new world of possibilities for him.

Zeng’s newfound passion has led him to invite his hearing-impaired friends to his house to enjoy hand-brewed coffee. One such friend is Zheng Yi, who has also developed a love for coffee and the sensory experience it provides.

In September 2022, Yijiao, a company, launched a free barista training program for the hearing-impaired, which caught the attention of Zeng, Zheng, and others who had been struggling to find work. Out of 15 trainees, four were selected to work for Zhu after passing a strict entry examination.

In the same month, the first Yijiao Caf outlet was opened in Yuzhong District, providing employment opportunities for the hearing-impaired community. The café is a place where people can come together, share a cup of coffee, and enjoy the fragrances and tastes that Zeng has come to appreciate so deeply.

The coffee shop opened its second outlet in the Songshan General Hospital, located in Chongqing’s Yubei District. According to the founder, Zhu Zhongming, the new store sold over 3,700 cups of coffee within a month of its opening. Moreover, the chain donates 0.1 yuan, or about 1.45 US cents, to public welfare funds for every 10 yuan earned. The coffee shops are designed to be an inclusive space, where people with and without disabilities can work, socialize, and enjoy coffee together.

Yijiao Caf’s design team is composed of hearing-impaired staff. Wang Yuan, a team member, expressed that the career options for people with hearing impairments have expanded beyond factory work. Many of them have become lawyers, designers, teachers, and tour guides, to name a few. The team is located in the city’s business incubation base for individuals with developmental disabilities, where more than a dozen start-ups, including floriculture and e-commerce live streaming businesses, have been founded by disabled people.

The success of Yijiao Caf’s first two outlets has prompted Zhu to plan for the opening of three more coffee shops this year. The founder envisions Yijiao Caf to be more than just a coffee shop, but a model space for inclusive employment. He hopes that the able-bodied and those with disabilities can work and socialize together in an environment that promotes equality and acceptance.

Zhu’s vision aligns with the Chinese government’s recent efforts to promote employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The government has encouraged businesses to adopt more inclusive hiring practices and has launched initiatives to train disabled workers. The country aims to achieve full employment for disabled people by 2020, with an emphasis on high-skilled jobs.

Yijiao Caf’s success serves as an inspiration for other businesses to adopt more inclusive practices. With the opening of new outlets, the chain can further promote the employment of individuals with disabilities and encourage greater social integration. By fostering a more inclusive work environment, businesses can help to break down barriers and promote greater equality and acceptance in society.

The coffee shops aim to serve as a model space for inclusive employment and promote greater social integration. Yijiao Caf’s success is a testament to the importance of adopting more inclusive practices in business and breaking down barriers to create a more accepting society.

In conclusion, the story of Zeng Zheng and the “Yijiao Caf” highlights the importance of creating inclusive workplaces and providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It is a testament to the power of empathy, inclusivity, and the love of coffee. By hiring people with hearing disabilities and creating an environment where they can thrive, Zhu has made a positive impact on her community. The café’s success is a reminder that embracing our differences and imperfections can lead to a more fulfilling and joyful life.

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