A Paraparaumu based company is playing a big part in helping young people get involved in the coffee making industry.

Dark Horse Roastery, in Sheffield St, is going the extra mile for students from Kāpiti, Paraparaumu and Otaki colleges who have been doing the Zeal barista Gateway training course.

The course starts in the colleges, with tuition in a coffee cart, but now, after discussion about improving the model, involves training in the roastery too.

"Dark Horse Roastery owners Rachael and Matthew Payne offered up their space for workshops, one on one mentoring and work placement which has absolutely transformed the experiences young people are having through this opportunity," course co-ordinator Sophie Molloy said.

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"Running a workshop that is all about coffee growth and production, inside a functioning roastery, offers context to the learning and a greater chance that knowledge will stick.

"The workshop is followed by two weeks of one on one training in the coffee cart, with seasoned barista and trained youth worker Andrew Boothby, then six weeks work placement in the roastery.

"In the new model, young people are able to work at their own pace, in a context where they are both nurtured and challenged."

Sophie said the purpose of the barista course was "to train, equip and empower young people with valuable work experience and skills, with the ultimate goal of bridging the gap between valued work experience and first time employment".

"In today's climate, youth unemployment rates are extremely high, as are the number of young people struggling with their mental health.

"At Zeal we believe that these two factors are related and that every human being, young or old, needs at least one space in which they are not only competent, but have quality skills and knowledge to contribute.

"Our central belief that every young person has a unique and creative spark, drives us to provide opportunities for that spark to be ignited, strengthened and validated."

Matthew said, "I was quite apprehensive having students making coffee during service but it has gone really well.

"It's under strict supervision and people coming in have really appreciated it because the students are getting a chance to learn in context, they're in good hands and will be good coffee makers at the end of it."

He said the roastery taught students everything from green bean to finished product.

"We feel blessed to be able to offer it because there's nothing you can do, in this context, without spending a lot of money.

One of the courses in Australia, which goes from roasting through to making shots, is $3500 a day, which is ridiculous.

"For us it's a bit of a road test to see what works and what doesn't as well as getting this place on the map."

Two 17-year-old Kāpiti College students, Georgia Pincott and Zoe McNamara, were busy at the roastery when Kāpiti News visited.

"It's been really helpful and has given me a good insight into the process of making coffee, including the different varieties and textures, and the environment in the roastery is really lovely," Georgia said.

"It's really cool and a good work experience," noted Zoe.

Zeal Kapiti manager David Orchard said Zeal ran other hands-on courses including live sound, event management, and photography, which will be starting soon.

"They're a way of giving young people a whole bunch of NCEA credits for their academic year but also a taste of an industry."