News Brief: Business is brewing

Student-run coffee shop Blue Brew reopens


Ella Mercer

Writing on a chalkboard, members of the Blue Brew staff and juniors Katie Evans and Julia Ligoure prepare for Blue Brew to reopen. Prior to reopening, the staff was trained in preparing coffee and taking payments. “My favorite thing about Blue Brew reopening is getting to work with friends and [being able to] see [and] help customers every morning,” Ligoure said. “I hope to gain some work and customer service skills [from working at Blue Brew].”

Dragging their feet into school in the early morning, students set their sights on one thing: a caffeinated beverage. After being closed for 18 months due to COVID-19, Blue Brew reopened Oct. 4 and plans on starting the season with the introduction of an Iced French Vanilla Latte to their menu. 

Students have the option to vote on different drinks and flavors through Blue Brew’s Instagram polls. The coffee shop’s Instagram account is run by seniors Claire LeDuc and Joseph Denklau. Once a new product is voted on, it must gain approval by Principal Jeremy Mitchell before being introduced. When introducing a new product, nutritional value, profits and storage capacity are all brought into consideration. The nutritional value guidelines are based on Parkways nutrition guidelines and Blue Brew’s products and machinery is provided by their current partner Community Coffee. Drinks available at Blue Brew depend on Community Coffees product line. 

”I do the accounting for [Blue Brew]. I staff it [and] I keep track of inventory. I also do a little bit of the promotional side of it with the Instagram account, and [by bringing] awareness [to the business],” Denklau said. ”[Running Blue Brew is] a lot of work, but it’s just enjoyable to get to see [that] something that size can come to life and actually function. It’s kind of amazing, at the end of the day.”

Blue Brew opens at 7:10 a.m. daily and closes 7:25 a.m. before the start of first period. Clean-up occurs between 7:25 a.m. and 7:35 a.m. to provide time for putting away materials, wiping down surfaces and dumping out unused coffee, water and ice. The coffee shop is currently run through business teacher Holly Weber’s Marketing 1 class as an opportunity to earn Professional Development points. The money and keys are returned to Weber’s room after closing the coffee shop.

“I think [how Blue Brew is being run is] a great approach,” Weber said. “You have to problem solve [while working and] in the moment you have to think critically, you have to work together as a team. You [also] have to really step up and be responsible because you are responsible for an operation.” 

There are currently 12 students working at Blue Brew. Denklau organizes the schedule so that students work one to two times a week, based on their preferences. Future plans for the coffee shop may include the introduction of merchandise, the expansion of the shop’s hours and the continued introduction of new flavors.

“I think seeing the students take ownership and have success with [Blue Brew] [is my favorite part]. I’m here for support, but it’s really [the students] operation. Every year it seems to be a different team,” Weber said. “It’s just so cool to see each group make it their own and make it successful in their own way. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job this year [and] what it is right now isn’t necessarily all it’s ever going to be, but we’re really happy with how we’ve restarted.” 

All proceeds made from Blue Brew are donated to West Chest, an organization that provides support to students whose families are in need of financial assistance.  

I love that our profits go back into the community. As I chase higher sales numbers, I am always excited to realize that we are supporting those who need it. It makes me feel important because I know that everything we do, is to try and help other people,” Denklau said. I always love helping others, and being able to use my strengths and talents to do it excites me, [as] when you are able to increase your knowledge and do something you love at the same time, [it] makes it even more meaningful and special.