Caffeinating with compassion: VW bus serves up coffee and kindness

NOW: Caffeinating with compassion: VW bus serves up coffee and kindness

SLINGER, WI (CBS 58) -- Two former special education teachers in Slinger are turning beans to dreams and proving that inclusion and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.

Josh Taylir and Joe Blanchard are the Co-Owners of Sippie Hippie. Both former educators who were both looking for a change outside the confines of the classrooms they worked in. They both had experience running coffee shops inside their schools. 

"Why don’t we take that same concept out of the classroom and put it into the real world and see what we can do with it?" said Taylir. 

"We loved working with kids and adults with special needs but wanted to try something different," said Blanchard. 

The dream finally started to come to fruition when Taylir found the perfect 1971 VW Bus. 

"I literally bought it in Hartford. I've been looking at buses for a couple years. I never thought I'd pull the trigger until this came to my back door. My wife and I were sitting down on the couch one day throwing out names. She's like Sippie Hippie, and I was like that is absolutely the one," said Taylir. 

Taylir and Blanchard partnered up to create Sippie Hippie. The dynamic duo wasn't sure if people would take to the idea of a mobile coffee caravan. 

"Opening Sippie Hippie was such a leap of faith for us. Both Josh and I are former special education teachers. "a lot of people thought we were absolutely crazy. We make a great team together." 

To their surprise, the company took off faster than expected. They started becoming booked up almost immediately.

"Driving around is a blast!" 

Now, this piece of nostalgia is bringing Southeast Wisconsin a jolt of java and fueling the dreams of both Josh and Joe. All of their coffee is roasted in Princeton Wisconsin by Boom Coffee.

The van's name is Rosy and its jam-packed with different kinds of features. That includes a fridge, seven electrical outlets, a running sink with both hot and cold water and an espresso machine. 

Roaming the streets with Rosy perks up the neighborhood but the concept is what really serves the community. 

"A big part of our mission is to employ adults with special needs."

Josh and Joe feel that for many students, graduating high school can unfortunately feel like the end of being connected to a community for many. That is the point of Sippie Hippie, to continue those connections, mentorships and friendships. While doing that, it's still a job that can teach valuable life skills too. 

"We feel through Sippie Hippie we can teach those on-the-job skills; We can help foster and teach social skills and communication skills along the way." 

The company launched with the VW Van, but soon expanded thanks to one local business. Doug Ney is the President of Ney's Meats & Sweets in Slinger. He had an empty spot inside his shop and decided to offer it to Josh and Joe. 

And just like that, the duo then had their own storefront. 

Natalie Cleland has been working at the register for six months. 

"It's coffee, everybody loves coffee. I like working here because of the coffee and my supporters Mr. B and Josh. I really do love them. And I like it they teach me how to count money and make my own coffee. They're my friends and I like when they stop by and they tell me I did a great job!" 

Taylir says while it's a paying job, they are a part of something. 

"We really want to show the community and southeast Wisconsin the power of inclusion," said Blanchard. 

Inspiring inclusion extends to their non-profit. 

"The goal of Middle Ground Connections is to foster community connections through social, volunteer and employment opportunities."

Joe's Former Students Rachel Kania and Rachel Helland are proud to be a part of it. 

"Mr. B was our teacher, we met through school. Come to Sippie Hippie and be a part of the non-profit. Hopefully you'll meet us and hangout." 

Helland says Sippie Hippie makes the day better. 

"They're pretty cool and amazing. It's great making new friends."

Kania says Josh and Joe are great mentors. 

"They help us go through all of life's issues and stuff like that. If we have problems with a friend, or problems with math or reading and stuff like that. Helland added jokingly, "Boyfriends, yes boyfriends too." 

While the group does have a lot of fun together, they work full steam ahead to creating a better and more understanding world. 

"The big part of it was breaking down stereotypes in general," said Taylir. 

"I've dealt with bullies a few times in my life," said Kania. 

Now, all the group wants is kindness with each cup. 

"You can be nice to each other, and not make fun of us and stuff like that," said Kania. 

Taylir said seeing the interactions through both Sippie Hippie and Middle Ground Connections puts him at a loss for words and feeling very loved. 

"Everyone has a relative or a friend that has special needs. Just to be able to open something people are included and connected, the whole goal of the non-profit and the for profit is to build connections in the community. I believe that every person has their own niche in society and sometimes we need to help people find that place in society. It's our job as a community to kind of wrap our arms around everybody and feel them feel a part of it," said Blanchard. 

Joe and Josh continue to brew a brighter future for any individual, no matter their make or model. 

Sippie Hippie's storefront is located inside Ney's Natural Premium Meats and Sweets at 310 E Washington St, Slinger, WI 53086. 

Follow Sippie Hippie on social media below: 

Sippie Hippie | Slinger WI (facebook.com)

Josh Taylir's (@sippiehippiecoffee) • Instagram photos and videos

You can see Sippie Hippie for yourself at a few upcoming events, including a fundraiser. 

It's happening on August 12, 2023, at 8 am at Rotary Park in Slinger, WI. 

Ney's Premium Meats and Sweets is sponsoring the music and We Rock the Spectrum is putting together resources for individuals who know someone with a disability in order to help guide them through the maze of information available.

Sippie Hippie will also be at the Waukesha County fair and the West Bend Farmers Market. In addition, they'll be at MOWA in West Bend for their Art and Chalk festival August 19th and 20th. 

Sippie Hippie also does employee appreciation events, weddings, private events and they also have a photobooth. 

Josh and Joe would love to expand their business in the future. CBS 58 will provide any updates on that expansion as we receive them. 

Share this article: