Coffee shops are an essential part of any college experience. They are the between-class hang out spots, the preferred site for late night cram sessions, and the home of your first barista crush. That coffee life is woven into the very fabric of college existence. And according to NPR, one cafe in Nashville is using the coffee shop to help kids sustain that existence by teaching high schoolers relevant job skills to help them pay for college.

Anna Butrico/WPLN
Anna Butrico/WPLN

As college gets more and more expensive, financial aid doesn’t always make ends meet, and the necessity of a part time job is a new reality for many college students. To combat this, Bongo Java East has teamed up with charter school KIPP Nashville to put together a six-weekend program to teach the basics of being a barista, a job that is in abundance on any given college campus but often highly competitive (shout out to Austin’s Metro (RIP) and Spider House for never hiring me back in my college days). And while the program’s focus may be on latte art, the goal is to reduce the overwhelming debt looming after graduation.

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“People are beginning to realize getting a kid to college is not that difficult,” says Chris Reynolds with LEAD charter schools. “The worst thing we can do is produce a young adult to go to college who doesn’t have the financial means to complete it, and they leave with debt and a transcript they can’t monetize.”

The barista training is still a pilot program (there are at least five students from KIPP), but it is catching on and other schools want to join. And who knows, even if that whole college thing doesn’t work out, Bongo Java’s program still offers a first step toward a legitimate career in coffee, an idea that might have once sounded crazy but isn’t so far-fetched anymore.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.

*Top image is a digitally altered photo of Scott Callender of La Marzocco with Sprudge’s very own Buzzy the Bean [Seed].

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