I Love Coffee in Draper Street, Claremont, is the brainchild of Gary Hopkins who wanted to start a business with a difference and empower people along the way.
There are three baristas at the coffee shop, all of them have hearing problems, but it won’t interfere with them serving you up with a lekker cup of coffee, because if they can’t hear you, they will be teaching you sign language.
This unique coffee shop is a first for South Africa.
Kaye-Lynne Goddard, 24, from Strandfontein was training as a chef when she changed careers and joined the coffee shop.
“I drink seven cups of coffee a day myself,” says Kaye-Lynne.
“I’m not that anxious about the communication between me and hearing customers, we will also be teaching the basics of sign language.”
Kaye-Lynne and her fellow baristas have formed a formidable team and yesterday when the coffee shop was officially opened by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, they served their first cup of coffee to her.
Zille surprised mense when she revealed her younger sister was also deaf.
The premier also meant to make use of the shop to promote good citizenship.
“I have offered, and if they agree, to come to I Love Coffee once a month on a Saturday morning and make it a meeting point for people to come and chat to me about their issues and interact with me,” says Zille.
She has also opened her home, Leeuwenhof, to the business, who has been invited to visit her home once a month to sell their special brew.
And if you feel a bit nervous to go inside, there are rules up on the wall on how to interact with the staff.
It includes: “Look us in the eyes and speak normally [shouting doesn’t help] for when you place your order.”
Mense are also welcome to write their order or learn the sign language to order various coffees.
Hopkins says they have received interest from around the world but they’re going to brew the business slowly to make sure it’s a lasting success.