The Bean Machine – Vocational Training for Excelsior Youth

Thanks to a generous grant provided by Xcel Energy, Excelsior High School began a new internship program last November. This grant and a partnership with IMACK Coffee are allowing our girls to get real life experience working part time at a new on-campus coffee shop, The Bean Machine! This internship is designed as part of a junior/senior level math class, in which they spend half their time working in the shop and the other half in the classroom learning the basics of how to run a business.IMG_0152

Our girls were involved in the process of opening a small business from the very beginning, from coming up with the name to developing graphics for signage. We are now in our second term of running The Bean Machine five days a week, and our girls have already learned so much, from business management to barista skills and food safety.

Here’s a sampling of the valuable experience and skills they are learning:

Professional Skills

  • Punctuality and time management
  • Conducting themselves in a professional manner
  • Listening and following directions
  • Working as a team
  • Dressing professionally and coming to work with proper hygiene
  • Customer Service

Business Management

  • Understanding the basics of cost effectiveness and limiting wasted product
  • Balancing the cash register before and after shifts
  • Tracking sales and inventory
  • Brainstorming new business tactics
  • Participating in pre- and post-shift meetings

Barista Skills

  • Grinding coffee
  • Making espresso shots
  • Steaming milk
  • Memorizing drink recipes for efficiency
  • Greeting customers and taking orders
  • Upselling when possible
  • Communication between team members
  • Delivery service when customers can’t wait for their drink
  • Safety around a heated machine

Food Safety

  • Washing hands and wearing gloves at every task change
  • Keeping work areas clean and organized
  • Keeping refrigerated-specific items at the appropriate temperature
  • Keeping heated food items at the appropriate temperature
  • Learning about cross-contamination
  • Labeling all tools and food items
  • Working with individuals who have specific allergies accordingly

IMG_0156During this experience, the girls have learned so much and worked hard to create a regular client base that they serve on a daily basis. They have learned that customer service is a top priority in gaining and keeping customers. Perhaps most intriguing about the experience is how the girls involved with the program have begun to conduct themselves outside of work. They’ve learned that their behaviors inside and outside of The Bean Machine reflect on the business, so we’ve seen an improvement in their behaviors and overall demeanor. Not only have they learned essential vocational skills and basic business management, but they whole experience is helping them progress in their treatment and grow as healthy, successful young adults.