Inclusion, sustainability, and coffee: Polestar and Oatly’s silent baristas

Resembling a public living room, the coffee shop is a place for discussion and relaxation. It’s a place of inclusivity where everyone is welcome. Which was the entire idea behind Shanghai’s Silent Barista project.

China is home to 27.8 million people who suffer from hearing loss. Whether completely deaf or hard of hearing, these disabilities create significant challenges for those affected. Oatly, the Swedish oat drink brand recognised the struggle of people living with hearing disabilities and decided to do something about it. So, back in 2020, they started the Silent Barista initiative in Shanghai: an officially certified barista training program for the deaf community.

The project trains people with hearing disabilities to become professionally certified baristas as well as finding a job through Oatly’s network of baristas. The program has produced results, with graduates gaining both full and part-time employment in coffee shops around China. In 2021, the program even received a public welfare award.  

Like Polestar, Oatly holds sustainability as one of its core company values. And as the Silent Barista project shows, Oatly aligns with our philosophy of inclusion. Therefore, a collaboration made sense.

On the 25th of September this year, Polestar China and Oatly hosted a Silent Barista Project. Staff members of Polestar and Polestar owners were treated to coffee by the hearing-impaired baristas, who were on hand to discuss topics such as the right concentration of a ristretto, while also teaching the basics of sign language. 

By prioritising inclusivity, we can inspire one another. And if we can combine this with a cup of coffee, then all the better.


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