Stomping Grounds Café, a new student-run coffee shop, opened to the public this week. The cafe, located at 3859 Lancaster Ave., is operated by students in the business administration track at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students take a business administration class to learn about business research, professional communication, organization and conflict resolution in the workplace. They then put this knowledge to work in the cafe as managers and baristas.
“We created it to be a space where current students can come train and get the knowledge and work,” said Natasha Toney, business administration scholars instructor. “This has to be deeply rooted in community [and] student-led. We need to let them be the face and the forefront of this.”
Students work in the cafe as part of their coursework, and eventually as cafe hours expand, there will be the opportunity for students to pick up extra shifts and get paid for their time, Toney said.
Angel Overstreet, 19, is a student manager at the cafe. Overstreet enjoys making and drinking coffee, and he is even developing his own specialty drink called, “The Guardian Angel.” As a manager, Overtstreet said he tries to be a good leader for other student workers.
“I want everyone to keep coming and doing what they have to do and basically being on top of everything, so if I set that example…I feel like everybody can do it, too,” he said.
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“I have to leave certain things at the door to get my mind in a certain space,” he added, “so I can actually be helpful and actually be positive in the workspace.”
Kim Paulus, customer service instructor, serves as the general manager for the cafe and teaches students the practical skills necessary to be a good barista.
“First and foremost, baristas use professional vocabulary,” Paulus said. “So we are actually a really vocab-heavy course, everything from portafilters to backflush.”
Paulus also teaches students how to pull shots and steam milk, as well as safety and sanitation skills for working in a kitchen. All students are ServSafe certified, and the cafe hopes to eventually expand its food menu.
Its drink menu boasts lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, teas and more, including specialty drinks, like the Sweet Potato Pie Latte and Basil Berry Lemonade.
“I think what’s really going to set us apart is going to be those specialty drinks, because that’s going to be entirely student-focused,” Paulus said. “And they’re going to be working on their marketing whenever they do make a specialty drink…I want art, I want names, and I want you to sell it. Don’t just make it. How do you sell it? And that’s kind of what we’re working on here.”
Paulus also teaches students about the history of coffee, from legendary goat herders discovering coffee beans to the rise of coffee in Europe as it began to outpace alcoholic drinks in popularity.
“You get lost in the magic that is this beautiful story of coffee,” Paulus said. “We are part of something that started in Africa and changed the world. Everybody gets drawn into that.”
Paulus said the reception from the surrounding community has been positive so far. Additionally, the cafe has a “pay it forward” system that will allow customers to donate money toward others’ drinks, so cost is not a barrier for anyone who wants to stop by the cafe.
“The community could not have been more inviting,” Paulus added. “Everybody who comes through has just fallen in love with the space. It’s been really wonderful.”-30-
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