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When Brookhaven resident and entrepreneur Ashley Edmonds and her husband, Ryan, heard about mobile coffee company Java Joy, they were smitten. The company is an arm of the Athens-based nonprofit Extra Special People, which has programs for children and adults with disabilities. Java Joy employs adults with special needs to serve coffee and a hug (or an air hug in the pandemic era). “We heard about that and thought, ‘Gosh, we would love to bring it to Atlanta. We’re right down the street from Athens. We certainly need a presence here as well,’” says Ashley.

Here’s how it works: Java Joy’s employees are known as “Joyristas” and work from a mobile coffee cart. Local companies hire Java Joy to serve locally roasted Kula coffee to their employees and customers, or people hire them for private events. The Joyristas also sell pastries and coffee mugs. While Ashley and Ryan have had to push back the Atlanta debut due to the pandemic, they hope to launch this month and have already had interest from large Atlanta-based corporations around town.

Besides the interest from the community, former ESP participants who now live in Atlanta are also excited. “We’ve hired two Joyristas already. Both have experience with ESP,” Ryan says. “I think if you asked them, ‘What’s your perfect job?’ a couple months ago, it would have been to move to Athens and work at Java Joy. Now we’re bringing that to Atlanta, so they’re very excited.”


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