Every morning Pepperell High School students are serving up coffee, espresso and teas through a unique three-year partnership with local coffee shop Swift and Finch.
Caps & Grounds sits in the corner of the Pepperell High cafeteria where the school store once sat. Business education teacher David Mowery said the store stopped being profitable so the empty room sat until the idea was to convert it into Pepperell High’s own coffee house.
“(We) pushed until someone said ‘no,’” Joe Agan, who is also a business teacher, said. “No one said no.”
Chris Wilson, a senior, went over the everyday procedures of Caps & Grounds.
“We were trained by what we call the Og (original) coffee staff last year,” he explained.
The staff consists only of juniors and seniors he said, and it is up to the seniors to train the rising senior workers every year. For his senior project, Wilson will be making a training guide to leave behind for future workers along with an updated recipe book. Yes, Caps & Grounds has their own book of recipes containing drinks the students have invented or learned how to make. One of their most recent creations is a frozen hot chocolate that was a part of their Christmas collection.
The students are allowed to make whatever drinks they want provided they stay sugar free to comply with state and federal requirements. Using Stevia elevates cost but it tastes better Mowery said. He and Agan handle the financial side of things while the students handle the day-to-day work. The shop is profitable, Mower added, and all of the money goes back into the business. Last year was more profitable he admitted, but the workers would run out of supplies more often. This year the students have more supply in order to meet the demand of their shop.
There were three seniors on hand Friday morning and four juniors, which was a few more than usual. There are normally four working the booth from 7:15- 7:40 a.m., Wilson said. A cleanup crew, also made up of students, came in after they left and straightened up for them. Lunch crew mans the coffee shop from 10:50 a.m.-12:25 p.m. The final cleanup crew comes during 7th period and is overseen by senior Sydnie Edwards. Edwards and Wilson act as managers and oversee their crews, communicate shift schedules and alert the overseeing teachers of any issues.
“We try to get involved as little as possible,” Agan said.
The partnership with Swift and Finch came about due to Agan’s connection with the owners. The Broad Street coffee shop sells Caps & Grounds their coffee at a discount, Agan said. On top of that, whenever Swift and Finch upgrades a machine they sell their old equipment to Pepperell High School’s coffee shop.
It’s something other schools want to duplicate but can’t, said Wilson, adding that Swift has stayed pretty loyal to them and won’t take on other high schools like they did with Pepperell.
“They will have to just find another sponsor,” said junior Morgan Davis, who was just hired by Lumina Coffee Co. by State Mutual Stadium.
Caps & Grounds coffee company run Twitter and Instagram accounts for their business and keep the sites updated with their newest coffee creations.