A tremendous compliment also served as a tremendous problem last week for ADEC’s Gaining Grounds Coffee House. The monthly specials proved to be too tasty and popular. The staff ran out of the amaretto for the amaretto mocha frappé and both the lavender syrup and lemonade mix for the lavender lemonade.


The good news? Gaining Grounds has made staying local a priority since reopening to the public on July 6th to only further expand its community outreach efforts. The coffee beans themselves come from the Refinery Coffee Company in Goshen. Some of the snacks are now from the Dutch Waffle Company in Nappanee. The latest addition to the local roster, a South Bend-based syrup distributor – Theta Ridge Coffee.


“(Our new brand) Monin happens to be all-natural,” said Scott Fowler, one of the lead baristas at ADEC’s Gaining Grounds Coffee House. “We are dealing with a syrup that is pure (sugar) cane. It has natural flavor. You might order a strawberry frappé from a place and it comes out bright pink and tastes strongly strawberry but it’s probably artificial.


“From doing research, for a lot of people and especially our clients, it causes issues in the body and the mind having those color chemicals going through your system. It’s nice to find something to eliminate that. Natural is the way to go.”


Business has been picking up over the six weeks since the doors at 19670 S.R. 120 in Bristol have reopened beyond just agency-based traffic. Community regulars have started to return in regularity and ADEC clients keep coming in droves from day centers in particular.


Gaining Grounds Coffee House serves multiple purposes but one primary reason for its existence is that element of community outreach. The allure of a morning or mid-afternoon cup of coffee – either a quick grab-and-go on the way to work or for a nice sit-down chat with a friend – resonates with many of us. By bringing those people to ADEC’s main Bristol campus (or the downtown Goshen location once the pandemic allows for its reopening) allows for coffee drinkers to learn more about how ADEC helps those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Not only do the locations provide an ideal display area for Art by ADEC, but the coffee houses themselves provide yet another opportunity for ADEC clients to learn job skills. The soon-to-be launched barista in training program will provide even more clients with a chance to learn about operating a store, handling cash and credit card transactions, and more in a familiar comfortable setting.


ADEC baristas are regularly seen buzzing about the store. With the oversight of vice president for community outreach Cherri Peate, the sandwich menu has also recently been revamped with the addition just last week of a turkey and cheddar on wheat and a ham and swiss on a pretzel bun.


Fowler also knows when to shroud in mystery. What next month’s specialty drink theme? We’ll have to find out on Sept. 1st. One thing is for certain, whatever the September drinks of the month are, they will have been created with a zeal by our baristas with hopes to see it lead to another end-of-moth shortage like we are currently experiencing.


“It’s neat to be able to freely create drinks,” Fowler says of how much he enjoys the testing process that goes into creating the monthly specials. “When not just one drinks but two become unavailable, to both be sold out when it’s just a limited time engagement, it really shows that our ideas are good and valid and it spurs us to come up with the next idea.”


ADEC’s dedicated staff works in many creative ways to help assist our clients. However, the community at large doesn’t have an opportunity to experience an inventive therapy program or day center activity in person. Anyone is welcome to enjoy the creativity of the Gaining Grounds staff one cup at a time. It can serve as a scrumptious introduction to an Elkhart County fixture that stands for far more than just flavorful ground beans.