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Agonista Coffee

  • coffee shop

Zalqa, Matn district

Sitting amid the busy streets of Zalka’s souk, the Agonista café with its drinks, muffins and diverse treats and snacks appears the same as any other cozy café in the city, except that here, Elie, who meets clients with a tray on his shoulder, or Ghassan, who makes the coffee, both have trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. 

At Agonista, 8 of the 10 employees have some form of developmental issue, a rate way above the 3% handicapped person’s quota that Lebanese law makes compulsory for companies over 60 employees. Inaugurated on December 16th 2018, this is the first initiative of its kind in Lebanon.

The driving force behind it is Wissam el-Hage, a 32 years old graduate in physiotherapy. “In my job, I had the chance of spending a lot of time with handicapped people. Working with them made me realize how much their capacities were underestimated,” he says. “That is how the idea of Agonista came up: there had to be a way to shed light on these people, especially in the professional world, to tear down all the clichés related to [the] handicap[ped].” Three months ago, the young physiotherapist decided to go for it. He took temporary leave from his job and contacted the Lebanese Down Syndrome Association, a parents’ association whose children have Down syndrome, and the group supported the initiative.


Opening hours
Everyday 8am-11pm