MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) — A group of students at Marble Falls High School spends every morning brewing up coffee for classmates at the school’s new on-campus coffee shop.
Funded by a grant from the Marble Falls Education Foundation and money from the school district, The Stables is the Mustangs’ go-to caffeine connection run by the business practicum class at the school.
“It’s more fun,” said senior Frank Castillo. “It makes me anticipate wanting to come to school more.”
Castillo worked the register on Thursday, ringing up cups of cold brew, drip coffee, and icy frappes. “They’re honestly the thing that we sell the most of,” his classmate, senior Courtney Munn, said as she constantly poured blended, flavored coffee drinks.
The class expects to bring in about $30,000 in profit this year. Entrepreneurship teacher Tucker Edwards said that money will go to improvements at the school as well as a scholarship fund to help students brew up their next opportunities.
Edwards first thought of the idea a couple years ago while he was subbing for a Life Skills class. He and the students were sorting recycling and they came across thousands of dollars worth of disposable coffee cups from local shops.
When he got his first class of business students last year, without mentioning coffee, “I just said, ‘Hey, if you guys could have one business at this school, what does this school really need that we don’t have?’ And pretty much across the board, immediately, was, ‘We need some sort of coffee shop.'”
The students spent last school year planning and doing a feasibility study to determine how to go about it.
Edwards, a 2003 graduate of Marble Falls High School, has a background in franchising, opening a couple Which Wich sandwich shop locations around central Texas before transitioning into teaching. His students relied on his experience to guide how they developed the idea from concept to cup.
The shop, formerly a concession stand, opens every day from 7:45-8:15 a.m., before the bell rings. It launches officially on Sept. 3, and within the first three days the students brought in $369.
In addition to making drinks and running registers, the students discuss how best to market what they’re doing and to promote new items they have for sale. They also analyze sales to determine the returns they’re getting for their efforts.
“We can talk in theory all day long,” Edwards said, “but I think it is like in life, you know. You learn a lot when you actually go through the process.”
Part of that process is the classwork after the coffee shop closes. Students gather around Edwards and they look at the numbers generated through the point-of-sale system the class set up.
Thursday, the students pushed the snacks they have for sale, rearranging the counter to showcase the food cart, and it worked. “Yesterday we sold zero food items; today we sold five,” Edwards told the students gathered in the hallway in front of the shop. “It’s just educating the customers about what we have.”
That’s the portion of the class that’s most beneficial to business-minded students. “We talk about what we can do better or what we can change to make our line more efficient,” Castillo said.
The students will constantly improve throughout the year, hopefully adding more mid-day hours and new products. Some coffee and school spirit shops they looked at during the feasibility study rake in $90,000 a year, and the class will work to improve their profit so they can improve their school.
Outside of the business side of the shop, though, making coffee each day is a way for students to talk to people they normally wouldn’t and to make connections with parents and teachers.
Even after three days, when Edwards asked the teenagers about some of their regulars, students shouted out names and orders.
“You’re going to walk through the hallways and you’re going to see Ruth, and your mind’s going to go to, ‘I know exactly what you order when you come to The Stables,'” Edwards told them.
That social-emotional learning component, he told KXAN, is perhaps the most important aspect of the coffee shop.
“We’re not just talking about coffee and just selling it and just trying to make a profit to give back,” he said. “How are we teaching life skills to these kids in the midst of this coffee business so that it can benefit them, and benefit the school as a whole?”