Serving Opportunity

The unmistakable sounds of coffee being ground and milk being frothed emanate from the bustling café at Hamilton’s St Francis Xavier’s College each weekday morning.

Students studying Kitchen Operations as a vocational training subject are at the helm, serving about 70 staff and peers with their morning caffeine hit.

Samantha Middleton is a hospitality teacher and manages the café. She says the commercial-grade café provides students with a convenient opportunity onsite to complete half of their mandatory work placement hours required to receive their Certificate II in Kitchen Operations.

“The idea for the café came about eight years ago, and originally opened two mornings per week,” Ms Middleton says.

“Demand for the service was high, and so we expanded our operations to provide espresso coffee, and other breakfast treats five days per week.”

As well as being a convenient option for students when undertaking their work- placement hours, it’s also akin to any other commercial operation with speed, timing and productivity all paramount.

“Each morning, we receive a high volume of customer traffic, meaning students who are serving can apply their skills to meet the varying consumer demands,” Ms Middleton says.

Students who undertake a work placement in the café assist with everything from input into the menu and making food and beverages, to serving customers and learning about business operations.

Takings from the café cover the costs of saleable goods, running expenses and a portion is contributed to charity, with the benefactor regularly changing.

With this edition of Aurora focusing on mental health, we asked Ms Middleton to share one of the café’s secret recipes, which happens to include an ingredient scientifically proven to help boost people’s mood.

“Banana bread is one of our most popular products,” Ms Middleton says, “and bananas are high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.”

To find out more about St Francis Xavier's, Hamilton or to enrol your child, please click here. 

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Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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