Gutter Punk Coffee began as a dream in the heart of founder Carley Kammerer when she was just a high school student in Milwaukee years ago. She developed a passion for under-served populations and noticed that coffee seemed to have a unique way of bringing friends and communities together. After finishing her degree in social work, Carley was able to intern at a coffee shop in Denver, Colorado called Purple Door that employs youth who experience homelessness. The opportunity taught her a lot about the logistics of running a coffee shop that doubles as an employment training program for youth and her dream of starting her own shop began to blossom.
After returning from Colorado, Carley got a job working with youth experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis, and she was able to see firsthand the struggles that youth go through to find and maintain employment. She realized that job retention is one of the biggest barriers to exiting street life.
Meanwhile, Ben Griswold has always been focused on channeling community development and social entrepreneurship to empower marginalized groups of people. One of his biggest passions is to create sustainable models that provide opportunities in critical areas such as employment, food, and housing. Majoring in finance in college and working in some fortunate corporate roles gave him the skill set to get an organization like Gutter Punk Coffee off the ground. Ben discovered coffee early in his life and what started as a means to stay awake transformed into a much deeper interest, leading him to become a barista, enthusiast, and coffee roaster.
At the recommendation of friends who knew they both shared a love of quality coffee and community development, Carley and Ben met in the winter of 2016 and after several conversations about coffee, business, and social justice, they struck up a business partnership. Gutter Punk Coffee was born and Ben and Carley began serving coffee at farmers markets in 2017. Their goal is to use their love of coffee as a tool to provide youth with a safe place to learn employment skills and provide space to explore their unique interests, talents and desires for their future.