Drive-thru coffee shop completely run by students open for business in Wasilla

Published: May. 17, 2017 at 2:52 PM AKDT
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Grinding coffee beans, pushing out Americanos and marketing a business. It's all part of a day's work for one group of high school students in the Mat-Su Borough.

Nearly a dozen student baristas from Twindley Bridge Charter School are running the TB coffee shop located at the roundabout of Lucille and Seldon Streets in Wasilla. As a drive-thru coffee shop open to the public, it's the first of its kind for the district.

"They design the signs, they design the logos, they decide on the drinks that they want to serve down to the coffee sleeves we order off amazon," said shop manager Elizabeth Mills. "They make all those decisions. I’m really just here to guide them."

The business started as a class project two semesters ago. "We ran through our first semester which was just base line. We were calculating the cost, " Teddy Fussell, a student barista said.

Once the business was stocked and in place, students took a class through Kaladi Brothers coffee to become certified Baristas.

Fussell said customers seem surprised when they pull up and notice the young age of the staff. "It’s not normal to see students serving them coffee and I think it’s great," he said.

One student per shift makes federal minimum wage and the others working are volunteers.

Principal John Weetman says the program is funded through the school's budget — but is projected to be a completely sustainable coffee business.

Even though students work for tips, they're not actually keeping any of the money. "They go to the school activity fund so at the end of the year with all the tips we get to do something educational," student Barista Leigha Peace said.

Peace said the class may use the tips to take a field trip to Washington, D.C.

TB Coffee is completely staffed and run by the students five mornings a week between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Students say the hours may be expanded during the summer months.