Saturday, September 19, 2020
Sept. 19, 2020

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Food & Drink: Kids learn The Birds and The Beans of business

Ridgefield High students play key role in coffee shop

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The Birds and The Beans Coffee Shop in Ridgefield.
The Birds and The Beans Coffee Shop in Ridgefield. (Rachel Pinsky) Photo Gallery

The Birds and The Beans may look like a typical coffee shop, but there’s something different about this quiet caffeine-inducing space in the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center building.

Ridgefield High School students created this business through the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, or CAPS, program. CAPS allows students to participate in a real-world, project-based program to develop professional skills. Students fill out an application and go through an interview process to join this program. They can choose from three different types of occupational skills: engineering, health sciences, or business, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Killa Bites co-owner Laura Jhaveri volunteered to work with students years ago so that she and her partner, Donna Suomi, could use the former middle school’s kitchen to bake goodies for their company. The school superintendent, Nathan McCann, suggested Jhaveri work with students through the CAPS program, and The Birds and The Beans was born.

“I didn’t know anything about coffee before this project,” Jhaveri admitted. She did know Red Leaf Coffee; they were Killa Bites customers. Jhaveri and the five high school students in her program created the name for the coffee shop.

“Ridgefield is known for its wildlife refuge and Birdfest so we were trying to make that connection with the shop name,” Jhaveri said.

If You Go

What: The Birds and The Beans.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Where: The lobby of the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center, 510 Pioneer St., Ridgefield.

Information: 360-635-8650; the-birds-and-the-beans.business.site

The first part of the student project was planning the coffee shop and opening it. CAPS students worked with Jhaveri’s daughter, Ashley, lead graphic designer at ZZeppelin, to create a logo and work on branding. These young entrepreneurs-in-training wanted to include the nearby Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in their branding with the image of the blue heron.

“We decided that The Birds and The Beans was a good name for students in Ridgefield who are starting a coffee shop,” Ashley Jhaveri said.

During their meeting at ZZeppelin, the students worked with Ashley Jhaveri to create a voice for the business. With so many different students posting on the business’s social media, a consistent image of the business and a unified voice is crucial. Ashley Jhaveri laughed as she described the company persona the students devised: a really old man who lived in Ridgefield his whole life, traveled around the world, and returned to Ridgefield to nest.

Four part-time baristas, hired by the students, run the coffee shop while they’re at school. In the morning, office workers line up seeking a quick caffeine infusion. Many of the same people return for lunch. I recently visited at 11 a.m. on a weekday. The only people around were the receptionist for the building and the coffee shop’s barista. Despite gray skies, sunlight streamed through the windows.

Fresh sandwiches and salads range from $5 to $10, and include a turkey and Swiss sandwich on a croissant; a chicken Caesar sandwich; a vegetarian Caesar salad; and a fall fruit salad.

Baskets with a variety of Killa Bites cake bombs ($3.85 each) perched on the shelf above the sandwiches and salads. Killa Bites biscotti ($2.50) and gluten-free peanut butter cookies ($2.25) sat by the register. A shelf by the wall held beanies ($20), T-shirts ($20) and mugs ($15) with the Birds and The Beans logo.

The CAPS students created a warm space to sip coffee, pop open a laptop, and get some work done. This semester, Laura Jhaveri, with continuing help from her daughter, will work with a group of mostly new students. (Students enroll in CAPS for a semester at a time.)

“Students will focus on marketing and a marketing plan with deadlines and deliverables,” Laura Jhaveri said. “It’s fairly straightforward to plan a business but the real work comes in trying to keep it going and make it profitable.”

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