Team of teachers, students hopes to reinvent local coffee shop

Apr 6, 2014 | Retail, Uncategorized

Charlie Nguyen with one of his artistic lattes.

People stopping by the new Cafeccino at Cochran Commons may feel at first like they’ve stepped back in time. Little has changed, visually, since a national coffee company closed its store here last spring. But the coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and coffee-shop experience offered at Cafeccino are all new, thanks to seven CPCC students and teachers who think teamwork will help them thrive where other coffee shops have not.

“We have a dream,” says partner and manager Phillip Tran, “and that is to create a corporation that can create white-collar jobs as well as blue-collar jobs and hire as many CPCC students as we can.”


Project started with a student’s complaint


Phillip, a CPCC instructor, says a student’s complaint about bad cappuccino at the Central Campus got several people talking and thinking. “We decided three months later to come up with a recipe for flavored cappuccino. I thought we might have a niche to go out and compete.”

The others were interested, so Phillip gave everyone an area to research. For instance, Camden Johnroe, a Mallard Creek High grad, explored the technology side of coffee shops. Shane Han, another CPCC student, studied recipes and quality control. Phillip looked into coffee-shop business operations.

They came back together and each made a presentation to the team. We know the outcome. On Dec. 5 the seven – now partners – signed a lease. They also agreed to each focus on a specific part of the operation.

This was Phillip’s idea, based on his coffee-shop research. The biggest reason so many single-owner coffee shops fail, he says, is that the owner tries to run everything. As a result, each partner at Cafeccino oversees one segment of the operation.


They learned by doing


Cafeccino celebrated its grand opening just three weeks ago, though the shop began serving customers way back in December.

“We thought we needed to practice before the grand opening,” Phillip explains. “We wanted to learn as fast as we could, and the only way to learn was to make mistakes.” They also explained what they were doing to those first customers and enlisted their support and feedback.

Phillip says that team members have learned how to make great coffee and artful lattes (visit the shop’s Facebook page to see several designs by partner and barista trainer Charlie Nguyen). The team has also come to see that people who like to do research (themselves) are not always the best at customer service, Phillip says, so they are working to improve.


Customers praise their enthusiasm and artistic lattes


Customer reviews of Cafeccino on Facebook, FourSquare and Yelp are generally quite positive, even about the service.

“The staff is amazing, not to mention the skills and designs on your latte,” wrote one customer.

“I really liked how cozy/modern the facility was! Everyone was very friendly and really seemed to enjoy what they do,” wrote another.

The store website reflects that enthusiasm. “Each of us has a unique talent and love for coffee, which we want to share with you,” it declares.


The next big change …

The drink menu is varied, extensive and soon to grow dramatically. Among the current offerings: Six flavors of cappuccino, four lattes, 13 teas and more than 30 milkshakes, smoothies and frappeccinos. Partner and CPCC business student Jeremiah Pollard is in charge of the next major product addition, Phillip says. In about a month, the coffee shop will begin serving beer and wine.


Learn more about Cafeccino

  • Location: 2706 W. Mallard Creek Church Road in the Cochran Commons shopping center
  • Hours: 7 am-9 pm Mon-Weds, 6:30 am-9 pm Thu, 7 am-9 pm Fri-Sat, 7 am-8 pm Sun
  • Delivery service: $12 minimum order; 1.5-mile radius.
  • Phone: 704-281-2585
  • Website:
  • Facebook


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