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Gutter Punk Coffee becomes Wildflyer Coffee, but the Mission Remains the Same

Article by Claudia Kittock

Wildflyer Coffee, formerly Gutter Punk Coffee, was established to create jobs for youth experiencing homelessness. Carley Kammerer grew up around coffee as her parents owned and operated coffee shops. At her mother’s funeral, she heard stories about the impact coffee and her mother had had on many people.

Carley majored in social work in college and became drawn to young people experiencing homelessness. She worked at a coffee shop in Denver that employed youth experiencing homelessness and was hooked on the idea. When Carley moved back to Minnesota, she saw young people cycling through programs, unable to get the traction they needed to move out of homelessness. That often revolves around the ability to get, but not keep, employment due to instability in housing and a lack of employment skills. It's not that they don’t want to work, it's that sometimes they don’t know how to.

She met Ben Griswold in 2015 when he moved to Carley’s neighborhood after working in Houston, TX in the finance world, and they discovered a shared passion for coffee and youth homelessness. In 2017, they launched Gutter Punk Coffee, a mobile cart that has employed 10 young people since opening. They can currently be found at the Linden Hills and Fulton Farmers markets.

Gutter Punk is being rebranded as Wildflyer Coffee. They are currently looking for shop space and hope to be able to announce something soon. They have a goal of raising $165,000 to make the retail shop happen. 

Wildflyer Coffee exists to create employment opportunities and cultivate living skills to empower youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability, and who want to exit street life. They employ youth who identify as, but are not limited to, couch-hoppers/couch-surfers, unstably housed, gutter punk, transient, highly-mobile or street-involved. As Carley and Ben love to say, “We make coffee to empower.”

In their own words:

We can bend the arc of tomorrow. We are seeking to build the intersection between potential and opportunity in the form of a coffee shop, where we can:

  • Increase our available employment hours from 200/year to a minimum of 3000/year
  • Open up 8-10 employment spots/year
  • Have the ability to offer each youth a total of 16 living skills groups and 36 individualized employment check-ins
  • Have maximum impact on equipping youth to leave homelessness and maintain independent housing and stable employment

If you are interested in learning more about Wildflyer and/or book them for an event, go to

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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