AUSTIN - Nick Buchanan and Mario Essig just opened Pepperbox Coffee.
Now, that might sound like the start to a typical profile of a couple of Austin entrepreneurs.
But here's a twist: They're deaf. The people who work for them are also deaf.
And they're all working to bring people together, one cup of coffee at a time.
"We had the same passion so we made it happen,” Essig said.
Their passion is coffee, starting a small business and growing the mainstream public's exposure to the deaf community.
"The communication is the biggest hurdle we have,” Buchanan said.
"They think we're scary. They don’t know how to approach us and they don't know how to communicate with us,” Essig said.
Buchanan and Essig came up with a solution. Customers use a laminated check list to write in their order.
"We wanted to eliminate that communication barrier,” Buchanan said.
The duo has three deaf baristas on staff. They said it can be difficult for people who are deaf to find work.
It's something Essig knows about first hand. He said his previous employer capped his growth.
"I moved up the chain, but when I got to the management level I maxed out,” Essig said. "They didn't really understand that deaf people do have skills.”
Harald Galinski is a Pepperbox Coffee regular, stopping by four days a week.
"The first day I just didn't know -- I just knew there was a coffee shop here, so it was a little like, 'How am I going to do this now?'” Galinski said.
He's happy to support this unique business.
"You get the good service and on top of all of it they make a really good coffee,” Galinski said.
Good coffee, good service and good conversation, even if no words are said.
Essig and Buchanan chose the name "Pepperbox" after an old gun which they said few people know very much about. They said that's similar to the deaf community.
The owners said there are almost 40 other businesses in Austin -- which has a fast-growing deaf community -- owned by people who are deaf.
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