This past Saturday, four words were on everyone’s lips in Hoboken: “New Jersey Coffee School.” As an event planner for the new Hoboken-based “coffee school,” Chelsea Ashe, told me at the company’s first-ever “Bouquet and Brew” Valentine’s Day event, “Coffee brings everyone together. I thought, come try different coffee beans and drinks, learn something new like making latte art on our machines or a bouquet for Valentine’s Day. I’m glad so many kinds of people showed up and could take something beautiful home.” For the founder and co-owner of this trade-school-meets-think-tank, Jim Conti, this has been a long time in the making. “I originally wanted to open my own cafe, but my background is in finance, and so a few years ago I started doing research. Quickly found out, that there are so few resources out there on how to break into this crazy world of coffee shops. That’s how the “New Jersey Coffee School” was born. “We opened in Hoboken last January. Since then, we’ve had current and future cafe owners, current and future baristas, restaurant industry workers looking to transition to a new career and maximize earning potential with tips, and people who just love coffee all come to take our courses, learn how to elevate their coffee game in life or business. ” The “Bouquet and Brew” event brought locals together from all over the New Jersey and New York area and even involved small businesses in the area. “It’s so amazing to work with the florists of Hoboken to put together a flower-arranging course at a coffee school,” Chelsea Ashe said. “We said we can trade, I’ll learn flower arranging and they’ll come try latte art.” Rizal Adhari, who’s currently pursuing his Masters’s degree from NYU School of Tourism, recently took the Barista course as he expanded the coffee tourism industry in his home country Indonesia. “Was an elegant event, really fun for the whole family.” Cafes first sprang up in modern society as centers of intellectual and cultural exchange. Come together, share a cup or a story, and leave feeling refreshed and new. Coffee Specialist Course Instructor Paula, a 10-year veteran in the NYC cafe industry and native of Medellín, Colombia, where some of the world’s best coffee grows, doesn’t miss a beat as she pours a beautiful design of hearts atop a steaming latte and answers my question, “What’s your secret?” “Love,” she says, as she hands me my own cup. Coffee has always been school. Now it’s in New Jersey.

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