Just as there are three layers to an espresso coffee (the crema, body and heart), there are three aspects of the Special Grounds Coffee business (the roastery, kitchen and cafe) that three of our New Horizons Academy (NHA) Career Center seniors (Gabe Hobby, Tyler Davidoff, and Noah Nagel) are learning.
Most people that visit Special Grounds Coffee Co. or any other coffee house, usually only see and experience the front of house customer service aspects of its counter staff or baristas. Yes, they are the first or initial contact with the public just as the crema is the first or top layer of the espresso shot. Baristas, counter workers, and drive-thru staff greet customers and newcomers, visit with them, take their orders, create their drinks, and serve them delicious baked treats.
“We want to congratulate and celebrate with senior Gabe Hobby! He just completed his drive thru training and is almost completely independent in serving customers their drinks and desserts,” shared Career Center Coordinator, Amy Murphy.
Gabe has come a long way in a very short period of time. He completed his health and safety food training and his OSHA modules before observing the Special Grounds Coffee Shop operations, shadowing its staff, practicing with job coach April Howard, working alongside experienced Special Grounds baristas and counter staff, and eventually taking drive thru orders and delivering drinks.
As job coach April shared, “Gabe has shown such growth, is so much more self-confident, and is working more and more independently. He follows directions, works well with staff, and works so hard! I am so proud of him!” And that is exactly what we want for all of our Career Center students and why the Special Grounds Coffee Shop was opened and developed…to help our students learn vocational skills and become more and more independent.
The second layer of the espresso is the body. It is the middle of the drink and offers espresso its strength just like the kitchen provides the heavy lifting for the Special Grounds Coffee Shop. The kitchen is the center of activity for the coffee shop and is where all of the delicious treats, breakfast burritos, tasty sandwiches, and fresh salads are made or baked.
Senior Tyler Davidoff is the latest Career Center student to join the kitchen crew. Job trainer Renate Benjamin directs, leads, coaches, and encourages many of our Career Center students, who want to learn aspects of food prep and bakery skills to use in their communities, restaurants, and businesses once they graduate New Horizons Academy. The Career Center Kitchen Crew includes Luke Chambers, Hannah Engler, Cierra Flores and Syndel Barker. All of these are learning so much during their kitchen work study program.
Job trainer Renate shared, “In a short time, Tyler has fit in with the rest of the student kitchen staff at Special Grounds Coffee Shop. With Tyler’s wittiness and willingness, I see Tyler accomplishing many things in his life! Tyler has volunteered numerous times in the kitchen when staff was short-handed. Since his very first day, Tyler has done a wonderful job. He follows directions in the kitchen, follows a recipe, and always asks, ‘What’s next?’”
Tyler is great with his hands. He enjoys pitching in and learning new skills. He learned that customer service was not his favorite aspect of the Special Grounds Coffee Shop…the kitchen was! He found the place at the Career Center where he feels the most comfortable, confident, and at home. And that is exactly what we want for all of our Career Center students and why the Special Grounds Coffee Shop was opened and developed…to help our students find their way, their strengths, and future job and career possibilities.
The third and final layer of the espresso is the heart just as the roastery is the heart of Special Grounds’ coffee business. From roasting, flavoring, product development, packaging, labeling and shipping, the entire cafe centers around our roastery. John Suess and Kayla Rowe roast and blend all of the coffee at Special Grounds. They, along with our Product Development Manager, Trishelle Suess, work closely with our third senior Noah Nagel weighing, bagging, and labeling all of Special Grounds’ retail orders, wholesale orders and special fundraising coffee drives. In the mornings, Noah works with the roastery team to learn the heart of the coffee business. In the afternoon, Noah works part-time behind the counter as a barista and paid coffee shop worker. He has learned the customer service aspects of Special Grounds Coffee, the kitchen work, and is now expanding his horizons in the roasting, flavoring and packaging rooms.
According to Murphy, “Noah has gone above and beyond. He is sought after and fought over between the kitchen and bagging and roasting rooms, He has worked additional shifts in the kitchen, so his classmates could participate in Fall Fest and Fire Safety Day. He communicates well with staff and provides peer support to at least three other students. He has a heart of gold and loves to make and share his treats.”
And that is exactly what we want for all of our Career Center students and why the Special Grounds Coffee Shop was opened and developed…to help our students expand their horizons, develop their leadership skills and potential, and share their caring, compassion, and support with others.
Three really is the magic number for the NHA Career Center and Special Grounds Coffee Shop…crema—Gabe, body—Tyler and heart—Noah!
For more information on Special Grounds Coffee, to explore our menu, to order our freshly roasted and blended coffees right from Wauseon, Ohio, or to learn more about our vocational Career Center opportunities, stop in and see our students at 845 S. Shoop Avenue or log onto our website at SpecialGroundsCoffee.com.