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Grinding Gears: Coffee with purpose

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mobile coffee truck that specializes in handcrafted java drinks and local pastries, Albuquerque’s Grinding Gears Coffee Co. has also become the perfect vehicle to train people with special needs.

Operating the espresso machine is one of the tasks for the Grinding Gears crew to master.

The goal is to not only serve tasty beverages to those needing that all-important morning jump-start, but to help get developmentally disabled clients of Bright Horizons onto the first rung of the employment ladder, said Jonathan Baca, executive director of Bright Horizons. Grinding Gears is a subsidiary of the organization.

The black truck with white lettering first saw life as a UPS delivery van in Austin, Texas. It then was kitted out as a food truck for previous owners until making its way to Albuquerque.

Now, its employees are serving a menu that includes nitro cold brew coffee and tea and lavender vanilla latte, along with regular coffee and other drinks. Rebel Donuts, Green Smoothie Growlers and Rudeboy Cookies are a few of the local products carried on the truck.

Grinding Gears rolled up to its first customers last November and now makes the rounds at several stops throughout the week, including the REI store parking lot on weekends and Smith-Brasher Hall at CNM. The truck also can also be hired for special events.

Seven Bright Horizons clients enrolled in the program are learning barista skills, such as operating the espresso machine, working the cash register and customer service. It’s good training to have if they want to continue working in the coffee industry or another line of work that uses these skills, Baca said.

Although the truck is creating a high profile for the business, the eventual goal is to have a brick-and-mortar coffee shop and roasting operation to train more Bright Horizons folks. Now that’s a mission that’s easy to get on board with.

Visitgrindinggears coffee.com for more information.

Kicking it up

As the number of students has grown, so has the need for a larger business space for Blackman’s Championship Martial Arts. (Courtesy of Phillip Blackman)

As husband and wife Phillip and Kristine Blackman’s martial arts classes have grown in popularity, so has their need for a larger business space.

Now relocated from Montgomery to the Alameda-San Pedro area, the owners-operators of Blackman’s Championship Martial Arts, formerly know as Blackman Martial Arts Academy, have been in business since 1993. They purchased the former 15,000-square-foot Good News Baptist Church property in February and have made improvements to the 46-year-old building at 5812 Signal NE.

As the number of students has grown, so has the need for a larger business space for Blackman’s Championship Martial Arts. (Courtesy of Phillip Blackman)

“We are seeing many exciting additions to this neighborhood, including our building,” Phillip said. “This was a light industrial area that is now having a new fresh life,” he said, referring to a mixed-use project proposed by Roy Solomon of Green Jeans Farmery.

“We are very pleased with the finished product to share with our over 500 students,” he said, adding that the business will have its official grand opening on Nov. 2 and 3. On the second day, Phillip Rhee, a popular martial arts action hero and star of the movies “Best of the Best” and “Underdog Kids,” will be on hand to lead free classes and autograph posters.

We live in hope

It looks like See’s Candies could be making a return to Albuquerque. And not a moment too soon, when one considers all the coming holidays that involve confections. (Halloween automatically springs to mind.)

On the Coronado Center’s website is this sweet morsel: “Coming Soon – See’s Candies.” Neither the mall nor the company’s corporate headquarters responded to inquiries about whether it’s a permanent tenant situation or just a holiday pop-up.

In February, a See’s spokeswoman said the company was unable to keep its lease at Coronado but was looking for a permanent location in Albuquerque at a future date.

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