Coffee Lab at North Central College

College students drink a lot of coffee. But at the North Central College Coffee Lab, they’re doing just as much learning as caffeinating.

Enactus is an organization that promotes entrepreneurial-based projects for NCC students. This lab is their latest venture, focusing on the business of coffee. Some got the chance to get involved from the grounds up.

“I got to travel to Guatemala two years ago and that was so fun to meet our partners and really see the whole process. From seeing it on the tree all the way to the finished product is so surreal to see,” said Co-President of Enactus Coffee Justin Simbol.

Taking the product from bean to barista requires students in various fields of study to pitch in.

“Across campus we’re connecting the coffee lab with classes in a lot of different disciplines – so engineering, chemistry, biology, environmental science, even in the businesses such as accounting and manufacturing a finished product, marketing, sales,” said NCC Entrepreneur in Residence Connor McGury. “So there’s a lot of different classes that will be able to integrate with the coffee lab.”

McGury said after two years of planning, it finally felt like the lab was coming together when the 1200-pound roaster arrived. It was a handful to get into the building, but it opens a lot of doors for the young entrepreneurs.

“We can brew things now,” said Co-President of Enactus Coffee Marguerite Kuntz. “That wasn’t really an option before so being able to practice that and really see how we can make our coffee the best and what brewing methods we like and what roast types we like.”

The lab can also be a showcase for other projects North Central students are involved in.

“With taste-testings, another pairing with coffee is a chocolate,” said Joe Coryell, the lead on a similar Enactus project that focuses on chocolate. “So being able to have events and having people in this space brings them in for the coffee, but opening that for our chocolates and being able to say ‘hey, this is another one of our products that we do in Guatemala.’ ”

A grand opening for the space is scheduled for May 17, but students have already learned so many valuable lessons about entrepreneurship.

“The way that it’s grown in the past couple years has just been honestly, so amazing,” said Michael Duy, an Enactus member studying social entrepreneurship. “It’s been so great to be a part of because now I’ve gained such intangible skills throughout this process.”

Taking learning from the classroom to the cup.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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