Though “Astute Coffee” may be an unfamiliar name to Central students, the coffee shop at 19th and Dodge remains a comfortable and popular spot for students’ afternoon coffee. The store, formerly known as The Bike Union and Coffee, closed its bike shop to focus solely on its mission of offering support to young adults impacted by the foster care system.
“We closed down the bike shop because it was so busy, it was taking away our capacity to do our mission, to do our nonprofit programming,” said Curtis Wilson, Astute coffee operations manager. “We decided from a mission-based perspective that keeping the bike shop open didn’t make sense any longer.”
Astute Coffee is a nonprofit organization as well as a coffee shop. Through employment at Astute Coffee, young adults impacted by foster care receive workforce development programming and a variety of other workshops, including meditation, cooking, and financial literacy.
For Astute Coffee’s program participants, the positive effects are numerous. “We’ve had a number of first-generation college students, a number of folks who were disconnected from the traditional school system graduate with high school diplomas or get their GEDs,” Wilson said. “We have folks who were homeless become housed and maintain housing after the program has ended. We have folks who go from not being able to hold a job to working steadily and consistently.”
By closing the bike shop, Wilson said, the organization has space to widen its operations and support more people. Since closing the bike shop, they have the capacity to deepen their existing programming, add additional programming, and employ more program participants.
Though some were in disbelief that the bike shop closed due to being too busy, Astute Coffee customers have been supportive and excited about the shift.
“Our customers are excited because we’re in the process of remodeling. That makes it a nicer place to come and spend an afternoon here,” Wilson said. “Our staff are excited about it because it frees up our time and capacity and makes the environment less chaotic than it was before.”
Their new name was inspired by their mission. To be “astute” means to be able to assess a situation well and notice and understand details, a trait that Astute Coffee’s program participants embody.
“We’re excited to be able to take a deeper dive into our programming,” Wilson said. “We’re grateful and happy to have more people in our program than we’ve ever had before, and we’re excited about the future.”