LINCOLN – Students in the Entrepreneurship Marketing class at Alcona High School have a new daily life.
The class recently opened a highly anticipated cafe – Alcona Tea & Bean – after its opening was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. Plans to open the cafe continued to move forward when high school students resumed in-person learning in February.
Teacher Aimee Renchenski said opening a cafe in the school would be easy for students and reduce overhead costs. She said that they also decided to open the store because the cafe was “Trend”.
“Most college campuses and their business programs have a cafe to get a little sample of the real world,” said Superior Caleb Kamiscke. “This right here is another good example of our learning about real world problems and how to solve them.”
The cafe, converted from a former concession stand turned into a storage room, opened on May 18. The café is open to high school students and teachers from 11:57 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. on weekdays this school year.
Renchenski said the students were involved throughout the process and were responsible for conducting the market research for the company, deciding which drinks to serve, creating the recipes for those drinks, and determining their cost.
Junior Hannah Tanner said their market research revealed that students were really interested in boba tea and Frappuccinos. Students prepare boba tea with iced black tea and flavored pearls that burst in the mouth. Pearls come in several flavors, including mango, peach, strawberry or blueberry.
Kamiscke said the teachers interviewed said they preferred black coffee.
Neither Renchenski nor the four students in the class had any experience working in a cafe, but they learned how to use the equipment by reading the instructions and watching YouTube videos. The students ground the coffee several times in their coffee grinder before determining the perfect grind for their espresso machine.
Junior Ashton Tracy said he watched hours of videos to learn more about brewing coffee. He said there were things he thought he could do, but that he learned after watching the videos, there is a specific technique behind it.
“You have to be very specific when you are brewing an espresso,” Said Tracy. “It’s like you have to make sure it’s as even as possible and that you have the right pressure. I have found little things like this, where it will change the taste of the coffee. “
One of the biggest challenges in developing their menu was complying with federal Smart Snack in School guidelines, which apply to all food and beverages served to students outside of federally reimbursable meal programs. .
“There are a lot of things people want but we just can’t serve them” Said Tracy.
The students ended up developing two menus as a result of the guidelines – a limited menu offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a more extensive menu on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In addition to selling coffee during lunchtime, Renchenski said that next year they hope to sell coffee before each school day begins.
The entrepreneurship class would also like to create a more cafe-like space outside of the cafe next year, where they would add table tops and a sofa for students to come and relax before school and at lunch.
Renchenski said the cafe was made possible with the help of Helen-Ann Cordes, Career and Technical Training Navigator, who drafted a $ 15,000 grant, part of which was used to get the cafe up and running.
Renchenski said the entrepreneurship class is the second class that students can take in the school’s business marketing program. The first is an introduction to business marketing. The corporate marketing program returned to the district in 2018 after being abandoned for more than a decade.