Who doesn’t like a good cup of Joe? Especially if satisfies the caffeine craving while also accomplishing some good.
That was the goal OCS senior Brooke Bryan and junior Eric Hainer had when they launched Catalyst Coffee in the spring of 2017, an on-campus coffee shop that delivers a superb brew while helping students fund their mission trips. Students work their shifts and their “wages” are monies that go toward the mission trip of their choice.
Bryan had friends who want to go on missions trips and said she would get “ten support letters a week asking for money,” and wanted to provide an alternative way for students to fund their trips.
“Our employees say they love working here, working with a purpose. Every hour they work is more money for their trip. It’s awesome handing a cup of coffee to our peers knowing that it’s really good coffee, but also helping others,” said Bryan.
Catalyst Coffee was the capstone project of Bryan and Hainer’s entrepreneur class taught by Beau Brannon. Hainer is a self-proclaimed coffee snob and felt there wasn’t a place on campus to get authentic coffee.
“Everyone drinks coffee. Everyone goes to Starbucks. So instead of having that money to go a big corporation, why not invest it in the OCS mission? It’s nice to know that something I love so much is going to a good cause,” he said.
Even the money they spent on buying coffee from Wild Goose Coffee helps the local community. For every pound of coffee they bought, Wild Goose donated 10 pounds of food to a local food bank in the Conejo Valley.
Junior Roxy Cooke was thrilled to have a chance to earn money for the India mission trip she hopes to go on in the 2017-18 school year to work with orphans and local villagers.
“I didn’t know how I was going to do it, so working here has been so awesome,” she shared while handing a customer a drink.
While the philanthropic focus was the foundation of their project, Bryan and Hainer were also realists. They put together a business plan, pitched it to the administration, secured seed-money and did research. They managed cash flow to make sure they were investing back into the business, but also on track to pay back the seed money to the investors. And they worked hard.
Bryan arrived at 6:15am every day before the student employees to set everything up. Hainer got there about 6:45am and shopped for all the supplies. The shop is open from 7:30am to 1:30pm and is located in the high school student quad. They usually stayed until 8:00pm wrapping up the day. In between all that they attended class, were both on the TEDx student committee, Bryan played lacrosse and Hainer volunteered at Calvary Community Church in the special needs ministry. Amazingly, they were able to balance it all and were never late once to class because of their business.
Bryan is now attending Liberty University and majoring in business. Hainer wants to major in international business after he graduates in 2018. Running Catalyst Coffee was definitely a training ground for that, including how to manage employees and troubleshoot problems.
They scouted a couple of locations and were initially across from the deans office for potential traffic flow, but that wasn't an ideal location for water access for the espresso machine (although Hainer did bring in a portable tank temporarily). They have since moved to the high school quad.
They employed 10 students: hired and trained them, and reported their hours to world missions and community service director to credit the students.
“We had to learn how to schedule people, making sure all the shifts were covered and that we had policies in place if someone missed their shift without telling us,” said Hainer.
And like any good executives, they already had a plan of succession once they both graduate. Hainer took over when Bryan graduated in June 2017, and he will train a rising senior to take over for him when he graduates.
“This is absolutely everything we hoped for and has surpassed our projections. We didn’t know it could turn into something so awesome and the thanks goes to our mentors and teachers,” said Bryan.