Residents of Good Samaritan Society – Le Mars attend the twice-weekly Coffee Delight coffee shop event

The residents of Good Samaritan Society – Le Mars weren’t always obsessed with coffee, but now they have every reason to be.

A free coffee shop now runs twice a week at the Le Mars, IA, nursing home, attracting regulars for homemade fancy lattes and good company. 

Residents have been meeting for coffee with Emily Toering, the facility’s activities director, every Tuesday and Friday since late May, with no plans to stop any time soon. 

Toering set up the “shop” with nothing but a single portable burner, a pot and a mason jar for hand-frothing milk for lattes. A pair of residents usually help Toering prepare drinks for everyone who shows up.

But more than the coffee, residents love the chance to socialize, do devotions together, and form deeper bonds than they could at other activities with less social downtime.

“You can do bingo and crafts and all that, but when you’re doing those you really don’t get time to talk and get to know each other very well,” Toering said. “I listen to my residents and I love to see them socializing with each other.”

She was inspired to try the coffee shop activity after a coffee truck was brought in for the 83 staff and 60 residents of the Le Mars facility. She noticed that residents were curious about the truck, but most had decided the price of the specialty drinks was too steep. She suspected the residents might be interested in a more affordable option.

To keep the cafe experience as real as possible, the shop has a printed menu, updated seasonally, with resident-favorite drinks often topped with whipped cream and spices. The most popular drink this month is the Peppermint Mocha.

Coffees made at the Coffee Delight coffee shop

Families and community members recently donated 35 ceramic mugs to the pop-up cafe after residents expressed that would make the experience even more cozy. 

More than 20 residents have become regulars at the cafe, which has become an institution at the facility. In December, they decided on a new name for the cafe — Coffee Delight, named for the new sense of social connectedness residents have found there. 

Cora, a 66-year-old resident at Good Samaritan, summed it up simply.

“We all need to talk to somebody to open up our hearts and feel like we are wanted and needed around here,” Cora said. 

Toering agreed that the social routine and the ability for some residents to help out with the coffee making helps those who attend feel a greater sense of community and purpose. She recommended that other nursing homes try a similar approach to social activities if they’re in a rut.

For more stories of nursing homes embracing the brighter side of life, see McKnight’s coverage of Disney being inducted into a facility’s centenarian Clubhouse.