The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Small Business Spotlight: Seth and Co. Coffee builds community for young adults with special needs

Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette
The idea for Seth and Co. Coffee started as an online business.

What started as a vision for Desiree McMullan to help her son, Seth, who has special needs, get real-world skills and work experience, has transformed into Seth and Co. Coffee, a cafe located in the Bank Street Annex in Downtown Easton.

McMullan and her husband, John, realized how few job opportunities there were for people with special needs and made it their mission to create a business to employ these young adults and teach them valuable life skills.

“I mean everybody looks at this [as just] coffee, but this isn’t about coffee,” McMullan said. “Or they’d be like, ‘Oh, this is a place for employment or whatever.’ That’s not our focus. Our focus is getting the community to have a relationship with kids with special needs, to feel comfortable around kids with special needs.”

To McMullan, the mission of the store is “talking to [young adults with special needs], making them laugh, seeing all of their different personalities, seeing all of their different talents — and they have many, many talents — and just [giving] them a space where they can be seen and heard and loved.”

McMullan and her husband brainstormed an idea for a coffee cart for local high schools, but many of them already had programs in place. They then began looking for a place to set up shop in the Lehigh Valley, but when COVID-19 hit, their plans grinded to a halt. That’s when they started their online business.

“It’s hard to build an online business without anybody knowing you,” McMullan said. “And then a dear friend of mine at the Pretzels Plus said, ‘Hey, they want us to bring in coffee. They said I could bring you in. Do you want to do it?’ And I said yes … We did that in the middle of Covid at the Palmer Park Mall and they’re still selling our coffee today for us.” 

Two years later, as McMullan and her husband made the decision to expand and began looking for a location to open a shop, McMullan said someone called her about the space they have now at 13 S. Bank St. She fell in love with the location right away, and before they knew it, Seth and Co. Coffee officially opened for business in January 2023.

“We had many ideas [of what] we were going to do,” McMullan said. “All kinds of different things that went through our heads and it’s just by joking around on a fluke that we fell onto coffee. The more that I looked into it, the more that I saw that it was attainable for us without getting too complicated … That’s why we chose coffee.”

As Seth and Co. is a non-profit, the McMullans and their daughter all volunteer their time while balancing other jobs to help around the coffee house. In addition, many of the mothers of the people with special needs who are employed there gladly volunteer their time.

“We volunteer because we believe in the concept,” Fidelia Friedman, one of the mothers who volunteers at Seth and Co., said. “We thank Desiree for starting this coffee place because all the kids get trained, you know, getting some skills. It’s more than just serving coffee. They learn how to be outspoken … they learn how to be on time, how to clean, how to be careful, how to communicate with people, all this responsibility. And we come here and we volunteer. We love it.”

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Patrick Hansell
Patrick Hansell, Staff Photographer

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