Home Essex CountyCaldwell Ethan + the Bean: A Community Coffee Shop with a Purpose

Ethan + the Bean: A Community Coffee Shop with a Purpose

by Kristina Helfer
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Ethan and the Bean, located in Little Falls, New Jersey, is a non-profit with the goal of increasing the employment rate for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This amazing coffee shop serves up delicious joe and house-made baked goods while also making a difference for our community. Read on to learn more about this inspiring café.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

The Start

Owned by Pam and Pat Donovan of Caldwell, Ethan, and the Bean was formally opened in November of 2019 with their son Ethan providing the inspiration.

The Ivy at Chatham

At the age of 21, persons with disabilities age out of school programs. Once they graduate, there are limited options for employment. Pat and Pam wanted to change that for their son and others like him and started Ethan and the Bean with this in mind.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

Prior to becoming a brick-and-mortar, it was operating out of a local church basement. Once the idea gained traction, this shop found its home on Main Street and has been loved by locals since.

Read More: A Guide to Montclair’s Best Coffee Shops

The Mission

Ethan and the Bean, according to manager Mike DeCarlo, strives to lift up employees and help them learn work and life skills that will take them onto the next stages of their lives, whether it’s at Ethan and the Bean or elsewhere. Through its encouraging, positive environment, Ethan and the Bean is able to provide training to its employees and volunteers, building their self-esteem with the goal of independence in mind.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

The shop currently employs about three full-time staff members and has an additional eight volunteers. The volunteer program started six months ago and currently has a waitlist of about 30 people looking to join. Through this volunteer program, even more people with disabilities are able to learn and grow by working in the shop.

Ethan and the Bean is more than just a coffee shop though. It gives its employees a space to be creative and the community a space to host events. On Sundays, it collaborates with Love Serving Autism offering a tennis clinic. Ethan and the Bean has also hosted craft workshops – or “crafternoons,” cooking classes, and art classes, to name a few. It’s a place where locals can come together for the greater good of the neighborhood.

The People

Rocco Damiano, who has been working at Ethan and the Bean for about a year and a half, said he enjoys the environment and interacting with customers. He is a barista who helps around the shop however he can. Ethan and the Bean has also given him a great outlet for his creative mind.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

This past winter, Rocco mentioned how much he enjoys movies and was asked to write movie reviews that were shared by the café. And, yes, he thinks that Die Hard is in fact a Christmas movie.

Rocco is also working on writing a comic book series about the day-to-day lives of the shop’s staff with some sci-fi elements mixed in. He hopes that the comics are sold in Ethan and the Bean as well as in comic book stores everywhere. We hope so too.

The Food + Drink

Ethan and the Bean currently uses a toaster oven to produce its baked goods but don’t let that fool you, they are incredible. The chocolate chip cookie is soft and the chips melty. The banana bread is moist and flavorful and the coffee cake, currently featuring strawberry preserves hidden beneath the crumb, is not to be missed.

It offers both medium and dark roast coffees with lots of flavors and options to choose from. Ethan and the Bean also offers seasonal drinks that manager Mike spearheads, with other employees contributing ideas as well.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

The drinks include house-made syrups and are a great representation of the season. For example, for spring, the shop is serving up blood orange lemonade, a honey rose latte, a taro ube latte, and a spring cold brew with lavender-infused cold foam. In the summer, we can look forward to affogatos and muddled lemonade with your choice of fruit muddled into its house-made lemonade.

Rocco’s creation “Rocco’s strawberry delight” was offered in February and was a hot chocolate with strawberry syrup – delicious!

See More: Coffee + Cornbread: Comfort Food in Montclair – With A Full Vegan Menu

The Future

Ethan and the Bean is working on moving up the street to a larger space to spread even more positivity within the community. The team hopes that the space will now include a full kitchen where they can do more cooking and baking.

With a bigger kitchen, the shop will have the ability to teach more cooking and baking. The new location will share space with a community center for Little Falls open to all.

ethan and the bean coffee little falls

Ethan and the Bean’s slogan, “Where hope is always brewing,” can be felt within every inch of this shop. Its staff and warm environment are like a hug and are sure to put a smile on your face. Whether you need your morning beverage or a delectable afternoon pick-me-up, visit Ethan and the Bean for a cup with a purpose.

For more information on Ethan and the Bean, follow it on Instagram @ethanandthebean and the website

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