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Coffee Hip-Hop & Mental Health – Normalize Therapy Cafe

Located in Chicago, IL

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The non-profit group Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health (CHHAMH) wanted to help provide access to mental health services for underserved communities in Chicago. To normalize and remove the stigma from therapy and raise money for those who couldn’t afford to receive counseling, CHHAMH opened a pop-up coffee shop that addressed both needs. As the group has grown, they wanted to open a permanent, flagship location that could raise funds and also provide a safe space for small group gatherings.

The new location, in the affluent and well-populated Lakeview neighborhood, was chosen to create a bridge between the different groups in the city. The older, mixed-use building has residential units above the coffee shop, so a special fire-rated ceiling was installed. Wood bafflings were used to draw down the ceiling and create a more intimate feel to the space.

The owners wanted to create a lively, welcoming cafe. The use of simple colors throughout the space – dark coffee bar, light luxury vinyl tile floors, and wood tones throughout – allows the walls to pop with murals drawn by local artists. Flexible seating allows the space to serve different functions, from café seating to enjoy that cup of coffee to intimate gatherings for group therapy sessions and a small stage setting for community discussions, guest talks, and musical events

New restrooms and a small office space for CHHAMH employees were built in the back of the space, while extensive plumbing and electrical work were added to service the coffee bar out front. Simple lighting adds to the space’s warm and cozy aesthetics.

Partnerships with several vendors were developed to help create the coffee shop on a tight budget. The Normalize Therapy Café will open its doors to customers in the spring of 2022.

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