Entrepreneurship via Coffee

3 Students Standing At The Coffee Cart - One On The Left, Leaning Over The Snack Basket. A Second Student Behind The Cart Pointing At The Camera. A Third Student With Elbows On Cart Holding The Cash Box.

Image description: Three students at the coffee cart selling snacks.

KSSB Students Thankful for a Generous Donation

What started out as a conversation about needs for Kansas State School for the Blind students turned into a fantastic donation and partnership that will benefit our students for years to come. 

Tara Stucky, the founder of Cause Coffee, a 501c3 nonprofit coffee shop dedicated to helping those in need both globally and locally, based in DeSoto, Kansas, walked away from that conversation and decided to take on creating a mobile coffee cart for KSSB. 

“When I heard about the desire for a mobile coffee cart, I knew we wanted to be part of it, but it was too large of a project for my shop alone, so I reached out to Messenger Coffee, and they were on board,” said Stucky. “We wanted a cart where students could make and sell coffee to other students, faculty, and visiting guests.” 

Isaac Hodges, director of sales at Messenger Coffee, which is the coffee supplier for Cause Coffee, said the desire to positively impact the community—something innate in both Cause and Messenger’s missions—was the significant factor in joining the partnership. 

“Partnerships like this are the lifeblood of our organization,” said John DeLeon, president of the KC Blind All-Stars Foundation.

Image Description: Coffee Cart- wood top and metal base on wheels.

Coffee Cart with wood top and white base with the KSSB logo painted in black. The logo is a circle with a flying eagle in the center. It reads: "Kansas State School for the Blind, 1867. Home of the Eagles."

Stucky said they wanted to make sure the equipment would be accessible for anyone with visual impairment. They purchased a custom-crafted mobile coffee cart, got plumbing set up for a commercial coffee brewer, the brewer, and air pots. 

“The KSSB program stood out to us because of the philosophical approach to impact students in gaining confidence and autonomy in a variety of ways, one of which being a coffee cart service on campus,” Hodges said. 

But it hasn’t stopped at the equipment; Cause and Messenger recently delivered coffee beans, cold brew, assorted tea bags, a display case for pastries, wooden organizer, pitchers, and much more. 

Image Description: A  Student showing a visitor the coffee machine.

A student in the kitchen, wearing hat, and demonstrating the coffee machine to a visitor.

“It has been a dream of ours to provide Transition students (ages 18-21) the opportunity to expand their social, money, and business skills through a small coffee cart operation,” said Jon Harding, superintendent of KSSB. “This dream has been realized, thanks to these local businesses who took the time to visit our students and learn about their needs.”

And it’s not just the coffee cart experience that is providing skills. The cart has spurred the students into tackling other student-led activities, such as lunch delivery, a student-built website, online ordering system, and sales of mugs, T-shirts, and other student-made products. 

“We are investing heavily in ‘makerspace’ stations that will allow students to learn business skills: planning, ordering, inventory, sales, production, and budgeting while producing products that can be sold or used here on campus: engraved signs, T-shirts, caps, mugs, etc.,” Harding said. 

Stucky says she hopes that Cause Coffee and Messenger will be able to provide ongoing help and supply donations. “We are just two small shops trying to make it, but we want to give back to these wonderful students,” she added. 

Harding summed it up best. “This coffee cart and equipment will provide entrepreneurship skills to students in the years ahead. We are humbled and appreciative.”

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