DECA and Common Grounds have teamed up to develop/improve and market Washburn Rural’s new Blend 437! Members Hannah Wessel, Alyssa White, Alaina Lee, Katie Gnagi, Trey Barr and other Common Grounds staff have been working with Mr. McFall and Mrs. Golden to complete a project based around the improvement and sale of Blend 437 for a DECA competition.

Common Grounds is a student-based business at Washburn Rural High School. Student baristas that work at the shop are enrolled in Marketing Management as junior and seniors. This application level course continues to expand students’ marketing skills with an emphasis on business management and entrepreneurship. Students manage and operate the school’s coffee shop, gaining experience with customer/human relations, inventory, sales, promotion, product development and development of 21st century skills.

This is the first year that DECA, WRHS business club, and Common Grounds have teamed up. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. Members can become: academically prepared for college and careers in marketing, finance, hospitality or management, community oriented by gaining an appreciation for the benefits of service and their potential impact on the community and world professionally responsible with ethics, integrity and high standards experienced leaders by practicing key leadership skills such as goal setting, consensus building and project management. The project, Learn and Earn, is a chapter project that develops business and marketing knowledge and skills. The Learn and Earn Project applies entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to a single sales/service activity to be run as a real business venture. In a sense, the project is a chapter entrepreneurship project.

The Learn and Earn Project provides an opportunity for chapter members to

  • plan, organize and conduct a sales/service project in their local community

  • develop a business plan

  • implement a promotional campaign

  • evaluate the planning, implementation and outcome of the project

The 2013-14 Common Grounds staff brought the idea of Blend 437 to life. Students came up with our original blend during a cupping at PT’s Warehouse last year. A marketing audit student, Jack Funk developed the label design. This gave the coffee shop a chance to introduce the blend on a small scale and test the market.

After some feedback from students and staff at WRHS, The first step of the process was to update and improve Blend 437. The students wanted to make the blend a bit more milder to meet a greater target market. In order to do so, the students along with Mr. McFall and Mrs. Golden went to PT’s warehouse for a cupping.  Cupping is a procedure for tasting coffee to determine its quality and flavors. To start off the owners of PT’s Jeff and Maritza Taylor explained what to concentrate on when cupping coffee, such as taste, smell, and certain flavors. They then took the students to a room where Maritza had a variety of coffee beans set out. She ground the beans and each different kind was passed around to smell. Next, hot water was poured over the ground coffee and was smelled again. The top layer of foam was then removed and the students tasted each coffee and discussed the flavors of each. As a group the best flavors were chosen and blended together in various combinations. After sampling several blends, a favorite was chosen. This blend became the new Blend 437.

The cupping profile: Crafted with a balance of Costa Rica and Colombian beans, Blend 437 is an incredibly smooth coffee with a round body consisting of sweet flavors that hint at milk chocolate, candied almonds, and tangerines. Blend 437 will greet you with an aroma of caramel and roasted cocoa nib, accompanied with acidity of a juicy apple.

Now to get the product available to the public. Students contacted Hy-Vee and it was agreed to have Blend 437 sold at the 29th and Wanamaker location. The students met with Keath Allen, Hy-Vee’s manager of perishables, to discuss cost, stocking procedures, and advertising plans. It was decided that the students involved will take turns taking inventory and stocking at Hy-Vee, ads will be placed in HyVee’s circular to inform customers of the new product. The blend will come whole bean and sell at $9.99.

Label Front - School Blue - 4.33x3.25        Label-Back---School-Blue---4x3