Perky Planet: Brewing up a cup with a cause

By  | 

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A Burlington coffee shop is brewing up a cup with a cause, and it's more than just their coffee that has people talking.

Every employee who works at Perky Planet has a disability, but both the workers and management say that's secondary. First and foremost they want to serve good coffee.

"It's providing a positive experience for people with disabilities who otherwise may not be able to get a job or an experience or anything like working at any other café," said Ian Macleod, the shop's roastmaster and barista.

Macleod helps train the staff. He has a brain injury and this job is more fulfilling than others he has had in the past.

"Typically at other jobs, I would not want to go to work, but here I would try to find a reason to end up not going to work. It's like I'm going to go to work and it's going to be fine and I'm going to have a good day," said Macleod.

That's the kind of environment Richard Vaughn envisioned when starting this business. He wanted a place where his employees could be visible and have purpose.

"For a lot of the jobs that are available for people with disabilities, they are often times are back rooms, they are in factories or warehouses and they are not really interacting with the public," said Vaughn.

And so far both customers and employees seem satisfied.

"Working here is a lot better. I think it's the best coffee place," said Matt Sanders, a barista.

For Macleod, his happiness starts when he sees people leaving happy.

"They are smiling, laughing, playing around. They are drinking coffee, beverages that I made with beans I've roasted. That's pretty cool, it felt good inside. From the perspective, it's just rewarding. I didn't ever think I'd be in this position," said Macleod.