About Us

The Good Bean is a welcoming neighborhood coffee shop serving up Starbucks coffee and small bakery items.  This social enterprise cafe was developed by VARC, Inc. to provide job training and employment opportunities to those going through recovery in the greater La Crosse area. Through community-based employment, training, and independent skill-building, The Good Bean aims to support participants to overcome employment barriers while earning an income that reinforces self-sustainability.

Send referrals to Referrals@varcinc.com.

Hours & Location

7:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Monday thru Friday

Inside the Coulee Recovery Center
933 Ferry Street
La Crosse, WI  54601

(608) 519-2328

Social Enterprises are organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach.  The Good Bean Café was developed with the mission to provide employment opportunities to adults in recovery who experience barriers to employment, and ultimately the mission to reduce relapse and recidivism in our community.

In 2018, Coulee Recovery Center built and moved into a new facility on Ferry St. in La Crosse, WI.  The new facility was built with a coffee shop in mind as a way to provide a place for fellowship. The Center observed that after support group meetings many of the visitors were going to local coffee shops in the area – often in the middle of the bar district downtown.

Founded in 1975, VARC, Inc has over 40 years’ experience as a world-class provider of vocational services in 5 counties throughout Southwest Wisconsin.  VARC specializes in a variety of recreational, vocational, and community-oriented and employment-related services aimed at improving the well-being of those served.  VARC programs are designed to account for participants’ preferences, goals, and to meet their desired outcomes.

The Good Bean Café was developed in 2019 as the result of a collaborative effort between VARC, Inc. and Coulee Recovery Center to enhance access to vocational development opportunities to adults in the recovery community in Coulee Recovery Center’s café space.  The café offers a new and inviting place of fellowship and employment, thus providing a path to self-sufficiency in a location that is easy to get too and supports sobriety.

The Good Bean Café relies on sales from customers as well as contributions from local community foundations, private, and corporate donations.  VARC has greatfully received support from La Crosse Community Foundation, Catalyst Kitchens, WPS Starbucks™, and Moka.  To ensure that the training program remains vital and that we expand our capacity in numbers of trainees and positive outcomes, Good Bean Café relies on this support alongside sales revenues.

VARC’s Good Bean Cafe is a recovery informed business model that provides a supportive place of employment where adults can work alongside others in various points of their recovery journeys. While gaining valuable occupational skills, participants can overcome employment barriers while also earning an income that reinforces self-sustainability. Trained in recovery informed care, VARC staff are well equipped to support employees during relapse or difficulty. The Good Bean training program utilizes a customizable timeframe based on individual needs.

Send referrals to referrals@varcinc.com.

VARC's Good Bean Cafe Training Service

VARC’s Good Bean Training Program is a multi-phased vocational training program that offers adults in recovery the chance to learn and practice work skills in a supported, recovery-informed environment. The mission of the service is to promote workforce and educational attachment, confidence, and life skills for the training program include formal customer service, barista, and safe training curriculum.

At VARC, we believe:

  1. Individuals, regardless of the barriers within their lives, have purpose and meaning and deserve the opportunity to contribute to their community.
  2. Employment is one of the foundations of building self-esteem, self-worth, self-sufficiency, and a sense of accomplishment. It is also one of the highest contributing factors in developing a sense of community and inclusion.

A vocational experience in a friendly neighborhood café

  • An on-the-job experience that trains adults in all aspects of cafe service, customer service, barista skills, and safe food preparation skills.
  • A concurrent vocational workshop that assists adults to explore their unique vocational preferences, deconstruct barriers to employment or education, and plan their next step.
  • Hourly wage, and linkage to employment opportunities in the community.

Who is a good candidate for the training program?

  •  Adults 18 and over who are in recovery and experience challenges to employment.
  •  Adults 18 and over who are in recovery and like the idea of working in a friendly, supported environment, learning to make espresso drinks, and interacting with great customers.

What are the outcomes of the training?

  • 100% of training graduates get an introduction to a real-world yet supported work experience.
  • 100% of training graduates are linked to basic resources that support independence.
  • 100% of training graduates are better prepared to enter the workforce and educational settings.
  • Training graduates are linked to subsequent employment.

How do I refer a trainee or get more information?

For more information or to send a referral, please contact the Recovery Café Supervisor,  at 608-519-2320 or Referrals@varcinc.com.

Make a Referral

If you have questions about the model or mission of Good Bean Cafe, please contact Director of Client Services, Shelby Neubauer | Sneubauer@varcinc.com