NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s Brightwater: A Center for the Study of food, has partnered with Bentonville-based Airship Coffee to offer a specialty coffee certification to the beverage module of its culinary program, according to a press release from NWACC.
The Specialty Coffee Association certification is available to students starting this fall semester, and Airship will coordinate accredited trainers “from around the country to teach Brightwater students about coffee, from its history and cultivation to current economics and advanced preparation techniques,” according to NWACC.
Brightwater leadership said the new program is intended to help fill a gap in the area workforce.
“It is one thing to have rapid growth in a region, but if you don’t have qualified employees to meet the demand, then the customer experience falls short of expectation and real progress stalls,” James King, director of the Brightwater beverage program, said in the press release.
Airship owner Mark Bray is an accredited SCA trainer. SCA is a global trade organization for the industry.
“Building a barista incubator program is a way to shape our industry and help establish Northwest Arkansas as a hub for specialty coffee professionals,” Bray said in the press release. “Partnering with Brightwater helps us reach dedicated students who are engaged in their craft.”
In addition to contributing to the local workforce, NWACC’s geographic location lends itself to “growing this labor force for the coffee industry in the Midwest region of the United States,” according to the press release.
“With the Brightwater partnership, we’re offering a solution to a market problem in our area as well as qualifying students for jobs around the world. This innovative move integrates the Specialty Coffee Association’s certification program into a culinary arts program and leverages a nationwide network of accredited trainers,” Bray said.
Brightwater will also host consumer classes for “aspiring coffee aficionados and food enthusiasts.”
The “Cross Cultural Coffee Experience” is set for Tuesday (Oct. 3) from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ozark Culinary Theater, 801 S.E. 8th St. in Bentonville.