- Union County Public Schools
Coffee Nut Café provides a special blend of job skills for UCPS students
Coffee lovers, you’re in luck: A new student-run community café just opened in the heart of Monroe!
On Nov. 6, the Coffee Nut Café officially opened its doors at a packed ribbon-cutting ceremony filled with community partners, UCPS staff, Board of Education members and more.
Standing behind the register in the brightly decorated coffee shop were seven Monroe and Forest Hills High students, all of whom are in the Exceptional Children’s (EC) Transition to Adulthood and Occupational Course of Study classes and were eagerly waiting to serve their new customers.
“This has been a year in the making and a lot of work was put in to open this café. In our Strategic Plan, we have several initiatives that deal with student opportunities – opportunities for programming and opportunities for career readiness,” UCPS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Brad Breedlove said. “When it comes to all students working together towards career readiness, I can’t think of a better example than the Coffee Nut Café.”
By selling coffee, juice and a variety of pastries, all priced as low as only $1.50, students from Monroe and Forest Hills high schools are having the unique opportunity to learn soft skills necessary for success in the workplace.
Transition to Adulthood students will serve as baristas and pastry attendants while Occupational Course of Study students serve as café leads. Additionally, all of the café’s activities will be under the close supervision of the students’ teachers who will serve as café supervisors.
By keeping the Coffee Nut Café’s activities as close as possible to the operations of a traditional coffee shop, students will have the opportunity to grow their customer service and problem-solving skills while also participating in weekly training sessions, learning how to market the business in the local community, tracking inventory and more.
“I was so excited this morning. I love doing this because the work is so much fun,” Forest Hills High student Ryan Craig said in between making and serving coffee. “It gives us a chance to experience work and it gives the community a new place to get their coffee. There are lots of benefits for everyone.”
As guests began to purchase coffee and pastries, EC Transition Specialist Linda Little’s eyes began to well with tears as she watched the students hard at work and reflected on the tremendous support the café has received from district leadership, the Board of Education and collaboration with community organizations.
SignPosts Ministry provided a location for the café and the Millers Crew provided vocational training as well as all of the café’s furniture. The NC Agricultural and Home Extension also provided students with SafePlates food handling training.
Union-Anson Habitat for Humanity donated the paint which First Baptist Men’s Group of Wingate used to paint the walls. Piedmont High student Daniel Clontz also won the naming contest for the café and Parkwood High students will soon paint a mural on the café’s doors.
“There is so much to be said for people who come together and unite for a common goal to help students be successful,” she said. “The more we bring the community in, the more they embrace our students as part of the community and as part of the workforce because they are and will continue to be a vital part of this community.”
Want to visit the Coffee Nut Café?
The café is open for business on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at 115 Henderson Street in Monroe.