HB + Western High School Barista Certification Program
It’s 9am on a Friday when six Western High School students file into Heine Brothers’ Headquarters. The sky is cloudy and construction seems to patter on outside as the groggy students find their way to their seat. Toni McDowell, Store Operations Manager, starts the day by breaking down what exactly these next couple of weeks are going to entail.
Western is not your normal high school; the students participate in programs where they can learn different skills and trades. These students are part of the culinary program and have chosen Heine Brothers’ as their out of school experience . Over the next few weeks they will learn everything they need to know to run a coffee shop, from the sourcing of the beans to handing a customer their drink.
Nathan Veneman, our Roastery Operations Manager, talks to the students about what it takes to keep our company running. Supplies have to be ordered, employees need to be paid, overhead and repairs have to be managed; there are hundreds of variables that need to be monitored everyday. Nathan makes sure that the students are aware of all the “behind the scenes” work that goes into running a business.
The students get to see each department of the business during the tour of Headquarters. We walk through our training cafe, the offices, and finally the roasting floor. The students are asking great questions. Tameira, one of the students, asks, “Can women be coffee roasters?”. Nathan ensures her that we have had several women roasters in the past and they have played an integral part of our business.
After a short break, we convene in our training cafe. Today we are brewing our Bolivia coffee. Joe Diniger, our Training & Quality Control Manager, talks about the process of cupping. He explains to the kids that cupping is a systematic approach to analyzing a coffee’s tastes and aromas. Though we will not be performing an entire cupping process today, the kids are still asked to smell and sip the coffee. We use the flavor wheel to evaluate the notes within the brew.
Most everyone agreed that the Bolivia blend had notes of nut flavor within it. To better illustrate his point about flavors, Joe encouraged the students to try some of our teas. In particular, our Mango India has strong mango and fruit flavors that can be easily detected among the more bitter black tea notes.
As we approach the end of today’s class Mike Mays, the co-owner/President of the company, stops by to tell the students about his story and how he started the business.
These days there seems to be coffee shops on every corner, so the students were surprised when they heard about the complete absence of them in the early 90’s. Mike describes a time when people doubted his “contemporary” ideas of selling coffee. Mike held onto his vision and gained traction within the Louisville market. Though he found success, he made it a point to involve his work with the community. As we wrapped up today’s session Mike told the students that doing the right thing and helping your community should be an essential part of running a good business!