Sitting down on a cool fall day, sipping a nice cup of coffee down at Coffee At The Lofts, seemed to be the thing to do on Wednesday.
A group of people who were doing that on that day, were not customers, but The Culinary Class from the Scioto County Career and Technical Center, who had come to learn all about businesses and how they are run.
Kim McCray, the students’ culinary teacher said about bringing her groups to Coffee At the Lofts, ” I really appreciate the opportunity to bring my students into a working business to be able see how it runs, not only did we get to learn the science behind coffee, but we got to learn how a business runs, how they hire employees, and the interview process. They also learned how Paul Ockerman, the co-owner, got stared what it takes to run your own business, just to learn a really good dose of reality, but also the students left completely inspired by his story and feeling empowered. I think it will really play a part in shaping their future. Also the opportunity The Lofts gave my students to have an interview and for them to see about running a business in Scioto County, and how it can change the area and help us grow was great.”
Andrew Sanchez said, “Basically, they showed us around and showed us the process of how to make different coffee like latte and espresso. I tried espresso and it was very good. Mr. Ockerman talked to us about job availability and planning for the future.”
Keysha Frazier said, “I enjoyed like getting to see their kitchen and sink area. I also liked seeing the different beans before they were roasted.”
Javontae Carter was picked to work behind the counter for the day. “I really enjoyed being behind the counter and learning how to make the different things and stuff like that. I’d love to have my own business like this. It’s a lot of ups and downs to a business, but once you get it, it can become really successful. If you’ve got a dream, stick to it, move forward and don’t stop.”
Alex Kimbler said, “The thing I enjoyed most was learning about how coffee beans were made and they showed us how to make coffee. It’s really interesting.”
Jacob McGhee said, “I really like how they showed us everything hands-on and experiencing everything, like the brewing the coffee, showing the process of how everything is made. It was a really awesome experience. Mr. Ockerman told us how he bought this place from nothing and all the progress that has been made.”
Rachel Sparks added, “I was interested when he talked about how he didn’t have a degree and how I wouldn’t think I could do something like this, but that I can.”
“I enjoyed like how even though our backgrounds are really different, you can still come forward and not depend on your background to make it,” said Morgan Thurman, “I liked how everything comes together and how the shop has all different designs and stuff, I really like that.”
Kaylee York too said, ”I really liked the coffee beans being ground. I also liked when he said that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can always succeed.”
“Learning how everything was made was my favorite, I’ve never seen coffee being made like that,” said Madison McGlone. “Also, how he went through hard times in his life, and where he is now it’s just amazing.”
McCray said that you could see by the looks on her students’ faces, that the lights were turning on in their heads, they were really excited about the dream and that your past doesn’t have to define who you are going to be in the future. She said she was sure they had heard it all before, but to actually see it in action, in person, something tangible that they can see and sit in the coffee shop. She said she thinks that is empowering to her and she could really see it in her students. She also told how one of the students from the first day, told her it was one of the best days of her life.
“As a teacher and educator to be able to facilitate that for a student, I just appreciate the Lofts for doing that for the kids. Terry Horner, business partner, plus designer, told them how they designed the restaurant, how they came up with the idea, where everything came from to how they picked the labels for the beans; to showing them how the beans were roasted, to showing pictures from trips they had in Kenya. This is a fair trade coffee shop. They actually went and met the farmers and their children. Ockerman has photos of himself, where they went to Africa and to Columbia. The students were shown how the green coffee bean was made to the dark bean. And then they showed the machine that makes that happen and the students got to do hands-on. One of the students told about how he taught them, where the different beans came from and he talked about marketing and re-branding everything from that to his background, hardships he faced, and how he overcame them.
The students all said they would rather be here than in the classroom and they would rather be hands-on.
Ockerman grew up in Portsmouth and graduated from Valley. He attended the vocational school at that time. He said when he did the interviews with the students, he would ask them what questions they would ask if they were interviewing him. This is the second year that he has done this with the students.
Dave Duncan, Director of Operations for Papa John’s was also there and spent some time with the students. He said, “ I look for facial cues, body language, and I’ll ask a question here and there to see if they are paying attention. I feel like everyone of them was assertive and a couple of them came up and thanked me and even one came and asked how she could apply for a job. I think this was very worthwhile for the students.” Duncan is from Portsmouth and his kids go to Portsmouth. He thought the students were so interested that he invited her class to the next John Maxwell class they use for their employees. These workshops are about leadership.
Whether these students are going into business for themselves, or just working in a business, they got a fully-packed day of ways to do this now and in their futures.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928