Right at the top of Long Street, a special coffee shop & eatery opened earlier this year, and today we were invited to spend some time at the restaurant as part of Mandela Day. Why? Brownies & downieS is not just like any other coffee shop, it in fact is first and foremost a training centre. At Brownies & downieS young adults with an intellectual disability are trained to be employable in the hospitality and service sector. In doing so, Brownies & downieS is creating a public space for change and acceptance, breaking down the barriers and stigmas surrounding mental illness.
The concept originates from The Netherlands, where the first Brownies & downieS was opened in 2010. This was the result of 2 friends partnering up, the one with a background in the hospitality industry, the other in education of special needs kids. They realized that not many youngsters with disabilities were employed in the hospitality industry, and identified the gap in education and training. Offering high quality food, prepared and served by trainees under professional supervision, they quickly grew to 30 stores in The Netherlands.
The ambitious Wendy Vermeulen (LLB), completed her studies in The Netherlands, and noticed during her internship in Cape Town in 2010 that not only are there few job opportunities for young adults with an intellectual disability, there’s also misplaced fear of the public to interact with people with intellectual disabilities. Recognising the need for training to improve employment opportunities, combined with the desire to make people more comfortable and open to treating people with special needs the same as anyone else, she decided to bring the Brownies&downieS concept to Cape Town.
As a non-profit organisation, Brownies & downieS relies on support to keep their work going, and there are different ways of doing so, as explained on their website.
One very attractive way of supporting is to go for coffee (Truth coffee - for the coffee aficionados amongst us!), and have their signature brownie. As the name suggests, they take their brownies seriously… These are by far one of the best brownies we’ve had in a long time! Rich, dense, and gooey with pieces of white chocolate, they’ll make you want to come back for more! Don’t say we didn’t warn you. :) The breakfast (it opens at 6h30am daily, so a perfect breakfast spot for early birds) and lunch menu offers a wide selection including great vegetarian options.
We couldn’t resist bringing some extra brownies and tried and tested these brownie smoothie recipes with a touch of the Brownies & downieS magic.
Find our Brownies & downieS inspired drinks here: