If you’ve stopped by ADEC’s Gaining Grounds Coffee Shop at the Goshen Shoots location, chances are you’ve seen Missy Mast’s smiling face behind the counter. Missy celebrated five years serving up delicious coffee drinks on July 2.

Missy came to work at Gaining Grounds after being referred to ADEC’s employment services through Vocational Rehabilitation. To start, she tried out a few different jobs, but one of the coffee shop organizers noticed her aptitude and asked Missy if she would be interested in learning to be a barista.

Gaining Grounds opened in May of 2009. In the year since it opened, two baristas had come and gone. The coffee shop team knew part of the formula for success would be to have a warm, engaging presence behind the counter. When Missy decided to give it a try, they knew they had finally found the perfect barista.

Like most people, the prospect of trying a new job made Missy nervous in the beginning. “I figured I’d try it out for a little while, see how I liked it,” Missy remembered. “Like any job, you struggle in the beginning. But I definitely got used to it. And I conquered the part I love – being around people.”

Once Missy settled in to her new role, she built relationships and grew a following of “regulars.”

“I try and at least know two of [my regulars’] favorite drinks,” Missy explained her customer service approach. “That way if they don’t want their first drink, I know what the second option is . . . I love meeting new people, and I hear some people come in just to see me, and that makes you feel good.”

Being a barista takes a lot of focus as Missy memorizes the recipes and delivers the drinks in a timely manner. She especially enjoys taking the time to drizzle sauces attractively on her handcrafted beverages.

During a slow day, she will take some time to experiment with different flavors and craft signature beverages. Some of her hits have been in the frappe variety — chocolate cherry and raspberry chocolate. Her most memorable failed drink idea was a banana split. She wrinkled her nose in disgust and shook her head as she remembered that beverage.

Arguably, the most popular drinks at the Shoots Gaining Grounds are the Chai beverages. They come hot and cold and in a variety of flavors, included salted caramel and cinnamon apple.

Missy often has customers come in and say things like “What drink do you recommend?” or “Just make me whatever!” She shakes her head as she thinks about it. She wants to make sure each person is completely happy with their drink so she’ll take the time to ask questions about her customer’s preferences and pinpoint the perfect drink for them.

“Every once in a while, I’ll have a customer high-five me and say ‘Yeah!’ after I hand them a drink,” Missy recalls of her attempts to guess the perfect beverage. “That just makes my day.”

Since Missy began working at Gaining Grounds, she has become a recognizable face in the Goshen community. Her regulars spot her when she’s out shopping or eating with friends, and she always gives them a warm wave hello.

“Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m in Cheers,” Missy said with a big smile. “I can just wave. Even outside of work when I see different community members.”

Did you know?

Missy and her boyfriend, Drew Lincoln, lead a team for Ride-A-Bike each year that raises more than $4,000 for ADEC. Her team, “In Memory of Mike Sisson,” has won the team award for the past two years. A big chunk of that number comes from Missy’s personal efforts in the community. During the 2015 bike ride, she turned in a pledge sheet several pages long with gifts ranging from $5 to $100 totalling $2,500!

Stop by Gaining Grounds

If you find yourself craving a caffeine boost, an icy treat or a comforting beverage, stop by one of ADEC’s Gaining Grounds locations in Goshen and in Middlebury.

Goshen Gaining Grounds
114 E. Lincoln
Goshen, IN 46528
M-F, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Middlebury Gaining Grounds
801 Wayne Street, Suite 10
Middlebury, IN 46540
M-F, 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist