Blue Brew off to a strong start


Claire Smout

Using the latte machine, Blue Brew crew member and junior Pierce Burns prepares an order for a customer. The crew members and Marketing II students are learning from and adapting to the wants of the students. “Some people may have noticed our new straws. We wanted to get away from Community [Coffee’s] straws and use paper ones, which was a request, because it is more environmentally friendly,” Burns said.

After surveying student opinions, executing a week-long soft opening in the spring and working on improvements, Blue Brew officially launched Aug. 20.

Located in the main lobby and open from 6:40 to 7:20 a.m. daily, the coffee shop is run by the Blue Brew Crew, made up of seniors Erin Clay, Alison Clay and juniors Pierce Burns and Garrett Walker.

“I saw a poster that they were looking for people to apply to work at Blue Brew and thought it would be fun. I had free time in the morning, so I thought ‘why not?’,” Erin said. “Knowing the drinks is pretty easy now, but it did take a little time to get used to filling up the cups with ice quickly and replacing the latte holders, which we always seem to run out of at the busiest times. We have to do a lot of things going at once.”

Members of the Blue Brew Crew completed an application, were interviewed and attended a training. In exchange for their service, they earn volunteer hours that can be used for the A+ program, honors societies, Business or Marketing and Information Technology (BMIT) internship applications.

“I am planning on applying to National Honors Society so I am using my hours towards that. We work about 50 minutes a day, and I work four days a week usually, so it adds up,” Erin said.

Blue Brew, created by a group of alumni marketing students, is now run by the students in Marketing II aided by Essential Skills students, who help with clean up each day.

“[During the soft opening] we didn’t have a lot of our processes down, meaning opening procedures, closing procedures and the like. To remedy that we gave our staff control to manage in the most efficient and effective way they felt possible. This strategy seems to be paying off,” Marketing teacher Holly Weber said. “My goal is for it to be an authentic extension of my Marketing classroom, where students can see campaigns play out in real time with organic results. We also plan to further our partnership with Essential Skills students to provide them with a platform to practice workplace and life skills.”

Each day, Marketing II students review how much they sold that day and look at inventory in order to figure out what they need more of and how much.

We have been really successful so far. We are making quite a bit of money now and all of our profits go to West Chest. It was essential for us to at least settle the debt of starting the company and now we have done that and are profiting,” Burns said.

There are three items on the regular menu: iced french vanilla latte, iced mocha latte and the cafe special, hot coffee. For fall there is also a pumpkin spice latte, which can be ordered iced or hot. They plan is to continue adding drinks to the menu and selling seasonal options.

“When we are trying new drinks we put out a lot of advertisements to get the word out about it,” Burns said. “We are constantly learning about what people want and what they don’t want. Through our advertisements, we are figuring out what methods are effective and which ones aren’t. Once something is advertised we can evaluate how good our marketing was based on what quantities of certain drinks we sold.”

With the customers’ feedback, the Blue Brew Crew and Marketing II students are adapting to reflect the wants of students.

“We want to add more things like tea and lemonade. A lot of our new ideas coming from just people who have asked us if we had certain menu items that we didn’t have, and then requested them,” Erin said.

All profits are put back into the business and also to West Chest. They hope to gift more than $1,000 to West Chest over the course of the school year and to have a positive impact on students.

“My favorite part of working there is that I get to meet a lot of people, I really love talking with all the different people about what they like and don’t like,” Burns said.  “It is great real-life experience because it is teaching me in real ways how to run a business.”