Coffee Curriculum

The first official cup of coffee — well, tea — served at the new Kaldi’s Coffee shop in Cornell Hall was a chai latte for Ajay Vinzé, the dean of the business school.

The shop, referred to as a learning café, is a partnership between MU’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business and Kaldi’s Coffee. Kaldi’s co-owners, Tricia Zimmer Ferguson and Josh Ferguson, are alumni of the University of Missouri and were looking for a way to give back to their alma mater.

“I’m so excited to begin offering not only great coffee and tea, but great academic experiences to MU’s business students through this partnership with the college of business,” Tricia Zimmer Ferguson says. “As an entrepreneur who benefited from a world-class education at MU, I can’t think of a better way to say thank you to the college of business while also providing students with new ways to enrich their college experience.”

Dean Vinzé and Zimmer Ferguson first brainstormed this collaboration two years ago, Vinzé says. “When I met Tricia, we immediately hit it off and knew we wanted to do something together to help businessmen and women at MU,” he says. “Kaldi’s opening itself in the business school is going to provide students with experiential learning opportunities. It’s going to be meaningful for our students to see how a good business is run.”

The café will hire student employees, but the real collaboration comes in the form of course credit. Business school students will gain access to Kaldi’s data and information, so that they have real world examples in courses. “Professors will use Kaldi’s as an example in different courses,” Dean Vinzé says. “For example, if students are in an accounting class, they will audit Kaldi’s books. If students are looking at supply chains in a course, they will look at how Kaldi’s coffee goes from bean to cup. They’ll get to experience things that you can only experience if you’re part of a business.”

Although it shares some ideas as the Missouri Method at the Journalism school, this technique is different, he says. “We aren’t training students to become baristas — we’re giving them experiential learning opportunities.” And, unlike most other dining or coffee options on campus, “this partnership is not part of campus dining,” the dean says. “It’s a new way of thinking.”

The Kaldi’s Café experiential learning opportunities will be offered in three courses this fall and four courses in the spring. But, Dean Vinzé says, “once word gets around, I’m sure there will be many more courses. This partnership is one example of the business school trying to create experiential learning opportunities. Instead of going out, we are pulling businesses in.”

The café, located on the second floor of Cornell Hall offers a full line of specialty drinks, including espresso, smoothies and food. It is open 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m.–1 p.m. on Fridays.

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