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  • Chris McMillan

Feature: China's hearing-impaired baristas taste the good life


9th April 2023

Feature: China's hearing-impaired baristas taste the good life

For many people, the taste of coffee is rather ordinary, while for others it seems sour or bitter. But for hearing-impaired barista Zeng Zheng and his peers in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, coffee presents a rich and pleasing variety of taste experiences.

There is even some variety in the different forms of sweetness on offer, according to Zeng, with some hitting the palate from the start, while others initially seem bitter but finally resolve into sweetness.

To some extent, this reflects Zeng's life experience, with the bitterness of losing his hearing giving way to something more positive, thanks to his new career. Together with several hearing-impaired colleagues, he works at an inclusive coffee shop named "Yijiao Café," located at Songshan General Hospital.

It is one of two branches with the same name, which translates as "One Corner Café". The name was inspired by a famous children's book called "The Missing Piece" by Shel Silverstein.

The story centers on a circular creature that is missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself. It starts out on an adventure searching for the missing piece, and is eventually successful. However, having filled the gap, it realizes it can no longer enjoy some of its favorite activities, such as singing. At the end of the story, it gently puts the piece down and continues happily on it way.

The moral of the story is that one can find happiness by accepting one's personal quirks and imperfections.

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