Urbana coffee shop’s mission develops adults with disabilities

Bobbi Custer is the founder and CEO of The Spotted Cow, 927 N. Main St.

“I felt like I was doing what I was taught, nothing spectacular,” Custer said.

Custer just graduated from Heidelberg University this spring and opened the store at the end of May.

Currently, she employs three people with disabilities and two high school students to oversee the workers.

One barista is Custer’s little brother Eric Custer.

“I like to drink coffee and make coffee,” Eric Custer said.

Bobbi Custer has been around people with disabilities all of her life.

Her older sister has Cri-Du-Chat syndrome and she has two younger brothers with down syndrome. And Custer’s parents own and operate Downsize Farms, a life-skills center for people with disabilities.

Bobbi Custer said working with people with disabilities comes naturally to her because she grew up around her two brothers.

“My parents always told me I’d be a manager because I always bossed them (her brothers) around when I was a kid,” Bobbi Custer said.

She added it has been exciting to watch her brother’s progress as a barista in the short amount of time the store has been open.

“He’s getting to the point where he is not just able to do different tasks, but he is able to do them well,” she said.

Most of the drinks are the same steps except for one or two ingredients, Bobbi Custer said.

Her brother is now mastering the espresso machine and memorizing drink recipes, she said.

On The Spotted Cow’s website, Bobbi Custer states her mission is to “Build the lives of adults with disabilities. By promoting our clients’ skills, they will gain the knowledge and ability to become champions within our community.”

Bobbi Custer said her ultimate goal in the next few years is to franchise the store to different communities around the area.

Aubrey Norris, 16, of Urbana, is one of the high school students helping fulfill that mission.

“It’s not any different than working anywhere else,” Norris said. “They are able to do it, so you just have to be there to help them.”

Norris said she has not had much experience with people with disabilities, but said so far this summer job has been very rewarding.

The Spotted Cow is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. with the drive through open from 5-7 a.m. and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. It stays open Thursdays until 8 p.m. The store is open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and closed Sundays.

To find out more about the employees and store information, visit www.spottedcowcoffeehouse.com.

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