Shanghai Foundation Recruits Volunteers to Talk With Autistic Baristas

An autistic barista Tongtong was taking volunteers' order in a cafe named
An autistic barista Tongtong was taking volunteers' order in a cafe named (photo:  Shanghai Agape Foundation)
By Katherine GuoMarch 23rd, 2023

A foundation in Shanghai enrolled volunteers to act as customers and communicate with autistic baristas.

Volunteers of the Shanghai Agape Foundation went to a shop named "A-Coffee" last Wednesday to act as chat volunteers, according to the foundation.

“A-Coffee” is not an ordinary coffee shop but the first social practice base of autism in Shanghai.

Due to H1N1, only two of the four baristas who were supposed to be present showed up. They are all autistic students from Angel Bosom Friend Salon (literal translation). In addition to teaching them how to make coffee and dealing with their bad manners, teachers help them when they have difficulty communicating with "customers."

With only four kinds of drinks being provided in the café, a barista named Tongtong speaks in a low voice and with a lisp. "Customers" often have to inquire three or four times before they can place an order. After repeating this over and over again, Tongtong finally recorded the drinks guests wanted and table numbers. He went to the bar to grind coffee beans, sprinkle coffee powder, froth milk, and make latte art and soon served the coffee.

Another barista, Qiqi, is also facing communication problems. When talking with others, he often stops suddenly and looks in other directions. After repeated reminders by the teacher in charge, he can come back to his senses and look at the stranger in front of him again. But it doesn’t take long for the same thing to happen again.

Qiqi’s mother and his mother's colleagues seriously asked him to return to his seat and sit down when he suddenly left his seat.

They explained to the volunteers that when Qiqi first served there, he often ran around the venue without following the barista etiquette, and it was a huge improvement that he could sit and communicate. They insist on coming to the shop from time to time and hope that more volunteers will provide opportunities for children like him to communicate and learn knowledge in different fields.

The foundation is recruiting volunteers to accompany these autistic children for two hours every Wednesday.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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