BRYCE Allen used to be a depressed young man diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
He dropped out of school in Year Nine.
"School just didn't work for me," he said.
Having lost confidence in his abilities, the 18-year-old Hinterland resident started withdrawing.
"I tried to look for work but was extremely socially anxious," he said.
"The only interview I attended went terribly. I knew that, with my condition, I needed someone who would look after me a bit more than the average employer."
With the encouragement of his case manager at Epic Employment Service, Bryce enrolled in a barista training program.
Karen Barnett, of Montville Coffee, roasters of fair trade, organic coffee, was his trainer.
And in the past year, Bryce has changed his life beyond his own imagination.
Karen and her husband Richard offered Bryce a part-time position as coffee roaster.
They coached him through the process and, after just three months, the young man with Asperger's was an award- winning roaster and had taken on the responsibility of 15 roasts per day.
"I entered two of Bryce's coffee roasts into The Royal Sydney Easter Show," Richard said.
"The first Bryce knew of it was when I casually mentioned that they'd won bronze medals for both the Woodford and Sunshine Coast blends.
"He looked straight past them and grabbed the judging notes, scanning the results then he turned to us and said 'how do we improve on these scores, we need to be going for gold next time'.
"In that moment, I knew this bright young man was going to play a much bigger part in the future of our business."
Bryce said he was happy working with his mentors.
"I now realise I don't have a disability. I'm just different. It may take me a bit longer, but once I get it down, it's easy," Bryce said.
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