Two years ago, the Lakewood, Washington community was shaken by the shooting deaths of five of its law enforcement officers. On the anniversary, an espresso counter was opened in the high school where the children of some of the officers are students. An espresso stand is a fitting tribute to the slain officers, as coffee has been a part of the story from its beginning. A story in a Tacoma paper by Kathleen Merryman highlights the place of coffee in bringing healing.
It was in a local coffee shop where the shooting of four of the officers occurred. That coffee shop has set up memorials, but in addition, trained and hired one of the daughters as a barista. Her widowed mother, who has received much support from the high school community, provided the $4500 Simonelli espresso machine. Seattle’s Caffe d’Arte roaster supplies the coffee and provided barista training to the other students. The espresso bar, called Thin Blue Line Espresso, charges only $2 per drink. Profits will fund student trips to conferences at DECA, a marketing and entrepreneurship club for high school business students.
There are other benefits as well: the coffee not only helps students stay awake in class, but it has decreased tardiness as students no longer have to make that early run by Starbucks for their caffeine fill up. It has also provided business experience to the students involved. The espresso stand met with a little criticism at first, as some were against the drinking of coffee by teens. As the Starbucks trips showed, they would be drinking it anyway. Also, the stand uses low-fat milk and sugar-free flavorings, cited as better alternatives to high-energy sugared drinks and soda. This tragedy at a coffee shop demonstrates once again how something so bad can be turned around for good. In this case, coffee figured most importantly in the healing. A caring community, the coffee, the barista training, the students on-time school arrivals, their energized brains, the coffee shop and roaster – all aspects in the healing process centered around coffee.