Aaron Metthe got some interesting reactions when he decided to turn his hobby of coffee making into a business.
"We really wanted to be a neighborhood coffee shop, a community coffee shop," Metthe said.
He dreamed of a place that cared more about its customers' needs as people than their money as consumers. In 2017, that dream became reality when he opened Salt City Coffee in Syracuse with his wife.
"It's the first cafe I've ever worked in where the owners are invested in community members as such, as opposed to profit," said Kae Bonaguro, a barista at Salt City. "We have this sort of dual vision of we take our coffee craft very seriously. But what gets us up in the morning is being part of the neighborhood and really thinking about how we can be a force for good."
To Metthe, it's about far more than just coffee. On the menu right below the coffee and food options, you'll find the "Pay it Forward Board" — four magnetic strips with little tokens on it.
A customer can come in, order their coffee and for a few extra dollars they can purchase one of those tokens. They put it on the board, and leave it. When someone comes in who cant afford a coffee or a bagel that day, they can take a token from the board and get a meal.
"Everyone knows the stats of poverty in Syracuse and the struggle to find good employment," Metthe said. "We just wanted to make sure our coffee was accessable to everybody."
The board only has one rule: No questions asked. Mo matter the reason, someone in need can redeem one of those tokens. Bonaguro has been a barista at the shop for a while, and she says the board helps keep her spirits high.
"In my heart, I believe all people are good." said Bonaguro. "Someone comes in and with the extra two dollars they have in cash they have they want to buy a token for somebody else to get a cup of coffee. It really does bring me a lot of joy and a lot of comfort."
It doesn't matter if you drink your coffee hot or iced, with cream and sugar, or with an extra token for someone in need. Salt City proves that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.