Popular social enterprise café celebrates a successful first 12 months


Warragul based social enterprise café Coffee Vibes, which supports and employs eight local all abilities young people, celebrated its 1st birthday this week.

Coffee Vibes is delivered by Victorian disability service provider Knoxbrooke in partnership with Baw Baw Shire Council, and operates out of the West Gippsland Arts Centre (WGAC).

Coffee Vibes is one of four social enterprise operations that Knoxbrooke runs and offers supported employment opportunities for young people of all abilities, to build their skills and confidence and assists them in entering the workforce.

The café has boasted an impressive first 12 months in operation. In August last year, Knoxbrooke expanded the team at Coffee Vibes, welcoming six new supported employees, bringing the total to eight. There are also three prospective staff members on the waitlist to join the team.

In the last year the team have also participated in various events and programs at the Arts Centre, beyond their usual operating hours, including the Arts Centre Open Day, Forecourt Friday’s and International Women’s Day.

The café has also gone from serving approximately 1300 customers per month, to almost 2000, demonstrating the growing popularity of the local café.

Baw Baw Shire Mayor Cr Annemarie McCabe attended the event, along with staff, fellow Councillors Cr Tricia Jones and Cr Farhat Firdous, and members of the community, and said how wonderful it was to celebrate an incredible first 12 months in business and added that the café had enhanced the overall atmosphere of the Arts Centre.

“The team at Coffee Vibes have created such an inviting and welcoming atmosphere that goes beyond the café walls and assists in making the Arts Centre a thriving community hub for both theatre patrons and the general public,” Cr McCabe said.

“The energy and enthusiasm you feel at Coffee Vibes is contagious, and I applaud the team there for their hard work and encourage anyone who hasn’t yet visited to pop-in for a coffee – you will always be greeted with a big smile.

“After this successful year, Council and Knoxbrooke are renewing their agreement for the WGAC to host Coffee Vibes and we are actively looking at other opportunities to further work together with the Knoxbrooke team and their incredible teams and staff.”

Staff member Bella, who is known in the cafe as the ‘milkshake queen’, spoke at the celebration, and said what a difference the opportunities provided through Coffee Vibes have had for her.

“I have loved the opportunity to work, just like my sisters and parents do, and I am currently learning how to make coffee,” Bella said.

All profits generated through Coffee Vibes are reinvested back into Knoxbrooke’s local disability support services and other social enterprises. The café is open Monday – Friday between 8am and 3pm.

Pictured: Staff members from Coffee Vibes, Baw Baw Shire Mayor Cr Annemarie McCabe, and executive staff from Baw Baw Shire Council and Knoxbrooke.

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