Mar 15, 2023 - Food and Drink

New Innovation Barn coffee shop supports homeless mothers

innovation barn

innovation barn

At a cafe/nonprofit called Change Please, 100% of coffee sales are used to support people experiencing homelessness. The organization trains them to be baristas, gives them employment opportunities and supports them in other areas.

Change Please started in the United Kingdom and has expanded to eight countries. The Charlotte location, which opened on March 16, is the first in the U.S.

Why it matters: Charlotte’s coffee shop will specifically cater to mothers experiencing homelessness. It’ll provide childcare for the barista trainees so that the women can “come into our program and focus on themselves … without having to worry about the burden of childcare,” Ryan McMillan, director of Change Please USA, tells me.

Change Please cafe
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

By the numbers: More than 3,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the Charlotte area, according to Mecklenburg County housing data

  • Women comprise 40% of the total homeless population in Mecklenburg County, according to the same data. 

How it works: At Change Please, the baristas are trained to Specialty Coffee Association standards. They learn how to do everything from making latte art to brewing drip coffee.

  • Inside the Innovation Barn, there’s a classroom with three training stations. “We expect to train 200-220 people per year,” McMillan said.
Change Please cafe
Each training station fits up to two people. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

What to expect: The space is about 2,000 square feet and will have indoor and outdoor seating.

  • Right now they’re only serving coffee and tea but hope to serve food, wine and beer in the future.

What’s next: Change Please is upcycling a shipping container outside and turning it into a play center for kids of the trainees.

Details: Change Please Cafe is located inside the Innovation Barn in the Belmont neighborhood at 932 Seigle Ave.

  • It’s open Monday-Friday from 7am-2pm.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in January 2023 and updated in March 2023 to reflect the opening date and new details. 

Change Please cafe
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
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