Marketing students start coffee shop at high school


A Brownstown Central High School marketing class is brewing up what the students hope is a success.

If the chatter from students and staff and support from the community are any indication, it appears they will be stirring up “a latte” business.

The perfect blend of students has come together to establish the Brewed Awakening coffee shop inside the school.

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Ever since teacher Robin Perry gave the assignment on the first day of school Aug. 8, the class has hit the ground running in hopes of opening the shop by Thanksgiving.

“It has been really amazing because I’ve never seen a class get this interactive with something that they have done as a whole,” junior Aeriel Morrow said.

“It was very, very scary and intimidating at first as you can imagine, but now that we’ve got the idea out and people are starting to hear about it, it has been amazing. People are very supportive,” she said. “There has been a major outpouring of support and love toward this, and it has been amazing to watch that.”

Junior Destiny Mowdy said she also has heard a lot of talk about the shop.

“I’ve been sitting in class before, and not a lot of people know that I’m a part of the coffee shop making, and I hear people like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait for the coffee shop to be open,'” she said. “I’m just like, ‘This makes me happy.'”

Perry, who teaches other business classes and advises the DECA Club at the school, said she has always wanted to start some type of school-based enterprise.

Starting out

When she heard Principal Joe Sheffer wanted to clean out the bookstore area near the cafeteria, she asked him if her class could put a coffee shop in there. He agreed to it, and Perry shared the news with the students.

They first contacted the Jackson County Health Department to get the space inspected, and they marked off areas for the equipment. The students then put together the business plan, applied for grants, asked for sponsorships and determined how much it was going to cost to start the shop.

Just recently, though, the class decided not to use the bookstore room. Instead, the shop will be in an open space on the other end of the cafeteria that’s near a main hallway.

That way, it will more visible to students and staff when it’s open from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 3:27 p.m. weekdays. They also plan to have the shop open during home boys and girls basketball games in the winter.

Learning experience

Sophomore Braden Fields, a construction team member, said it was a learning experience having to change plans in the middle of the project, but he thinks the new space will be better.

“I think it’s a better location mainly just because it makes it flow easier, and it’s not in a small, clustered space, and we can have more room to work with,” he said. “When you walk in the lunchroom or basketball games, you can see us there, and it’s like, ‘Oh, I want to go try that.'”

The class is divided into teams to take on different tasks. Along with construction, the teams are training and human resources, finance, decorations, product, equipment, security, payment and promotion.

The construction team continues to work with the health department to determine when building can start. Randy Ude, the school corporation’s maintenance director, is on board as head of construction.

The training and human resources group will be responsible for finding students to work in the coffee shop. There will be an online application to fill out, and the team will review them, choose the workers, give them a training manual and lead them through a training program.

Future focus

No students will be paid to work in the shop, but their time will be tracked. DECA Club members will earn points for travel scholarships to attend state and national competitions.

Money made in the coffee shop will go toward those travel scholarships, products and equipment.

Perry said most of the staff will be DECA members, but some special needs students at the school also will help out.

“We’re going to teach them correct food handling because that’s a résumé builder for these kids … and proper food storage and things like that so when they go to another job, they have experience and they know correct procedures,” she said. “It’s a hands-on learning laboratory.”

Customer service will be a priority, too.

“We want it to be a happy, welcoming, friendly atmosphere,” she said. “That’s our mission statement, ‘To wake up BCHS with a smile and a cup.'”

Raising funds

Junior Destiny Mowdy is the leader of the finance team, which sent out sponsorship letters to local businesses and organizations and also did a couple of presentations.

They have raised about half of the $4,600 needed to get the shop up and running, including equipment, supplies, decorations and permits.

“If all goes well and we have it up before Thanksgiving like we want to, we’ll be able to pay for a big part of state with our profits that we make,” Mowdy said.

The equipment team researched what’s needed to operate a coffee shop and ensured they meet health department codes.

Senior William Kell said the equipment includes coffee makers, coffeepots, blenders, a tea maker, a hot chocolate maker and four sinks.

“The lady from the health department, she talked to us about all of the standards that they use and how we should implement those,” Kell said. “Even though it’s run by students, it still needs to be a professional business.”

The product team has to ensure the drinks and food stay under 60 calories. There will be plain black, caramel and french vanilla coffee along with a seasonal flavor. Tea also will be served, and there will be seasonal drinks, such as hot chocolate in the winter and Italian sodas in the spring.

Going sugar-free

While recently visiting Carmel High School’s coffee shop with a group of classmates, Morrow learned they use Torani sugar-free syrups for the coffee, so that’s what they purchased for Brownstown’s shop.

The students recently had teachers sample the coffee.

“We were originally making our own creamers and syrups, and that just wasn’t working out very well for us, so Carmel suggested the idea that we get sugar-free Torani syrups,” Morrow said. “We did, and we’ve just been trying that out, and it has been a success, it has been a major hit.”

The sugar-free syrups allow them to add garnishes, including whipped cream, chocolate and caramel syrup, crushed peppermint and chocolate and brown sugar.

They also will sell Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and gum, and they are considering selling healthy snacks like popcorn and fruit.

The class is working on pricing for the food and drinks.

With decorations, the plan is to feature art students’ work in the shop, and there will be a seating area. Carmel has a space for musicians to play, so Brownstown may consider that, too.

The security team is determining the procedures to properly secure money, while the payment team will oversee the system used in the shop.

Senior Colton Cooper said they plan to use the same system as Carmel, which tracks the type and number of items sold, the form of payment used and the daily sales total.

“I just have to make sure everything is accounted for, and I have to make sure the network doesn’t crash or anything,” Cooper said.

Spreading the word

Finally, the promotion team is working on ways to get the word out about the shop.

Senior Czarina Agpalza said the trip to Carmel gave her some advertising ideas, including social media and posters. She also said a logo will be created by the visual communications class to use in advertising the shop.

“It was pretty inspiring because we can see how they did it, and we can take things from it,” Agpalza said of Carmel’s shop.

Junior Kiley Stidham and senior Bailey Hughes also thought the Carmel trip was beneficial.

“I was really surprised. It was so spacious and how big it was,” Stidham said. “They had a really large seating area, and people would come in there and eat lunch and do a bunch of things.”

While Brownstown’s shop won’t be as large as Carmel’s, Hughes said it was good to see how it operates.

“We got to see how they set it up, who’s in charge and everything,” she said. “We got a lot out of that because I think we’re going to kind of base it off of theirs, maybe with a lot less people but kind of the same system.”

Students in the marketing class agree it has been great to see everyone come together to make it happen.

“It took (Carmel) three months to get everything started, so we’re going at it very fast,” Cooper said.

“We have such a diverse group of people in here,” Mowdy said. “We have football players, we have the computer whizzes, we have people like me who just enjoy doing stuff and then we have the gamers and all of the different groups of people. When we work together, we can make something like this (in a short amount of time). … It’s awesome. It’s definitely going to be something I remember forever.”

Fields said he looks forward to seeing the concept become reality, and he hopes the shop is sustainable.

“It will be pretty cool, pretty neat knowing, ‘Hey, we were the ones that did that,'” he said. “If my kids ever come here and it’s still running, I’ll be like, ‘Hey, I built that.'”

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A Brownstown Central High School marketing class is establishing the Brewed Awakening coffee shop inside the school.

The students hope to have it operational by Thanksgiving.

Students and staff will be able to make purchases from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 3:27 p.m. weekdays. The public will be able to visit the shop during home boys and girls basketball games in the winter.

To make a donation toward the class project, stop by the school at 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown, or call 812-358-3453.