Friends Coffee & Tea: Behind the Cookies

Newsletter #2

Written by: Claire Luo, Friends Coffee & Tea Social Media Team Member 

From almond crispies to snow bliss cookies, Friends Coffee & Tea’s delicious sweets have a special meaning behind them. Each week, the shop holds a cookie training group session, working with a handful of special needs adults (age 22 and above) to teach them how to make these delicacies. 

Packaged almond crisps ready for sale.

Roxana Chiu, the manager of the shop, details the process. First, the special needs participants thoroughly read the recipe, taking note of the various ingredients and steps in the procedure. Then, with the help of an instructor, they begin the hands-on work, putting together treats such as almond crispies, one of the shop’s most popular offerings. Chiu describes how “every little step is difficult, with so many precise techniques” involved in making each unique type of pastry. However, after persevering and coming in week after week to practice, the special needs trainees were able to overcome these challenges and make beautiful and intricate cookies to sell. Ultimately, these detailed tasks of measuring out ingredients, evening out the sticky and thick batter into thin crisps, and forming the cookie shapes helped train their fine motor skills. These cookies have been highly successful, with the shop even being asked to make double portionings.

A cookie training group session in full swing.

The purpose behind this special program at Friends Coffee & Tea is to offer individuals with developmental differences an opportunity to receive job training. Even beyond making cookies, clients come in to learn how to open and close the shop, fold napkins, and more. In a society where job opportunities are scarce for the special needs population, this shop’s hope is to eventually be able to hire their clients after they gain the experience to work independently.

A student in the program prepares the ingredients.

Chiu recounts how it’s always a joy to see special needs clients come to the coffee shop and proudly say “I made this” when they see the pastries. They eagerly ask their parents to buy some, wanting to share them with friends and showcase their efforts. This heartwarming sight and proud sense of accomplishment are essences to the impact and mission of Friends Coffee & Tea.

To learn more about Friends Coffee & Tea’s ongoing skill-training efforts and their pastries, visit or feel free to contact the shop at (408) 725-8811 or 

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