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Ground to Tree Coffee Opens on Highline Campus

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2023-12-06T11:46:05+00:00 October 30, 2023|News|
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Ground to Tree Coffee Opens on Highline Campus

  • Two students smile behind the cafe's counter.


Mondays – Thursdays
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Highline College has a new coffee shop.

Located on the ground floor of Building 29 on the main campus, Ground to Tree Coffee opened Nov. 1, offering soft pretzels, pastries and, of course, coffee to the Highline and Central Washington University – Des Moines community.

“Ground to Tree Coffee is truly designed as a space for the campus community to feel good, caffeinated and connected,” said Micala Nitz, the program manager for the college’s Hospitality and Tourism (HOST) department. “We look forward to serving you!”

The cafe is entirely student operated with a majority of baristas pursuing degrees or certificates in the HOST program within the Business, Hospitality & Tourism Degree Pathway.

Baristas learn both soft and hard skills required to enter into a hospitality and service position, making this a great on-campus job for those within the program. Hard skills include: point-of-sale use, how to operate food and coffee industry machinery, business management skills, such as inventory, quality control, line checks, and merchandising, as well as acquiring a Food Handlers Permit as part of their training. Soft skills include problem solving, multitasking, prioritizing tasks, interacting with a variety of customers, creativity, and time management.

“All students start as baristas but those interested in learning more hands-on back of house (ordering, supply chain, training) will be promoted to Shift Supervisor and will receive an increase in pay and responsibility,” Nitz said, noting that students will also have the opportunity to learn about line checks, Health Department standards, menu updating, floor flow, and inventory management.

Ground to Tree’s coffee comes from a local organization called Grounds For Change, a family-owned and operated coffee roasting business located in Kitsap County, Washington. Grounds For Change ensures each batch of beans are shade grown, locally roasted and Rainforest Alliance certified. The beans they use are sourced from fair trade co-ops to support international economies and ensure that farmers get paid well.

“We are so proud to serve coffee beans that do good for both people and the environment,” Nitz said. “Often, coffee that you drink in coffee shops has been sourced using methods that involved slash and burn agriculture and that don’t pay their farmers a living wage –– we want to change this one cup at a time.”

And it’s that focus on the environmental impact that Nitz thinks is most important for the student baristas to learn about.

“We make it a huge part of our mission to use beans that are affordable, give back to the environment, and partner with fair trade co-ops internationally,” Nitz added. “We find it essential that our baristas learn about supply chains for coffee and know the importance of selling ethical and affordable beans.”

To celebrate its opening, Ground to Tree Coffee offered $1 off every 16-ounce drink in addition to a raffle where patrons won free t-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs and more. The raffle prize giveaway took place on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Learn more about Highline’s HOST program.