By Maria Sonnenberg
For Al Dia Today
VIERA – What does making a good cup of coffee have to do with Tinder, a therapy dog? The answer is that both are the loves of Lauren and Alex Flores, who operate 7 Senses Therapy, where Tinder the wonder hound works, as well as Bold Cup Coffee, a gourmet coffee shop located between Talbot’s and Chico’s at the Avenue Viera. Lauren, a Melbourne native and half-Puerto Rican on her father’s side, met Alex, born in Lima, Peru, when the two of them were pursuing their undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Florida.
“We earned our master’s degrees in occupational therapy in 2008,” said Lauren Flores.
Alex completed various internships in orthopedic rehabilitation, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury at the National Rehab Hospital in Washington, DC and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, with the goal of opening a pediatric occupational therapy center.
“I want to take away the limitations people set and reveal their amazing abilities,” he said.
Lauren had a special internship in San Antonio, Texas, where she was part of a well-established Animal Assisted Therapy program at Warm Springs Rehab Hospital. She learned about the amazing benefits of the human-animal connection and the progress achieved by the clients when working with the dogs.
The couple wanted to create an outstanding therapy clinic that would be known for individualized therapy, an Animal-Assisted Therapy program, and a sensory store so parents can purchase therapy items to use with their children at home. They opened 7 Senses Therapy with that goal. Canine Companions for Independence provided them with a highly trained facility dog that helps reduce anxiety in the children involved in the program and also helps to motivate them. Tinder Flores, a black Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, knows 40 different commands and is the darling of the children and staff at 7 Senses.
Through their work with 7 Senses Therapy, Lauren and Alex assist children struggling with the difficult challenges of autism, Down Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy and other disorders. Their young clients may have gross or fine motor difficulties or are experiencing issues with coordination, balance and perceptual concerns. Their attention span or social skills may be minimal.
Last November, Lauren and Alex launched yet another business, which you could say is therapy-related, if you consider a great cup of coffee an anxiety reliever.
“We both enjoyed trying out different coffee shops in Gainesville while we were there, and we felt a new wave indie coffee house was missing in Viera,” said Lauren.
New-wave coffee shops specialize in super-fresh roasted specialty coffees from single origin, fair/direct trade, micro farms. They also favor unique brewing methodology.
“They revere coffee,” said Lauren.
Bold Cup Coffee offers everything from specialty coffee drinks to even caffeine-free “kids’ coffee” for the younger customers. The shop also carries muffins, baked oatmeal, French macarons, and gourmet Hyppo Popsicles made in St. Augustine.
Since both Alex and Lauren boast Hispanic roots, it is not surprising that Bold Cup’s signature coffee is Café con Leche, which includes the house-made sugar mixture. A little added cinnamon elevates the flavor even higher on the scale of deliciousness.
Another must-try is the Tres Leches Latte, which features a double shot of espresso, condensed milk, whole milk and heavy whipping cream. You won’t find it on the menu, but ask for it nonetheless.
“It is on the “secret” menu,” said Lauren.
Bold Cup Coffee is at 2271 Town Center Ave., #117, Viera. For more information, call 321-282-1493 or see boldcupcoffee.com. The store is open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sundays.
7 Senses Therapy is located at 1751 Sarno Rd., Unit 5, Melbourne. For more information, call 321-255-7779 or visit 7sensestherapy.com.