Today I headed out to the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, otherwise known as ACEnet, to help Constantine and Alyse package Athens’ Own products. Alyse explained that ACEnet is a business incubator; in other words, they help support and assist other businesses in their endeavors. There are multiple ways in which they accomplish this goal, and one such way is to provide each business with a storage area, should they choose to rent one. They also provide an expansive community kitchen where local businesses can prepare, package, and create products. Athens’ Own’s involvement with ACEnet did not surprise me; it was, after all, yet another way Athens’ Own and other local businesses helped support one another, creating an expansive web of community connections along the way.
When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the multitude of people present in the building. Welcoming smiles, containers of supplies, an array of domestic and exotic smells, and the quiet buzz of conversation filled the room. I was eager to get started. Alyse showed me our storage area, and we began to transport needed materials into the kitchen. We were sharing the kitchen that day with Crumbs Bakery, whose employees were both boisterous and high-spirited. That, paired with the delicious smells wafting from the oven, created an enjoyable working environment. As the Crumbs workers continued to create crackers and other baked goods, Alyse and I began to stamp Athens’ Own coffee bags. One of the great things about these bags, Alyse explained, is that they are recyclable and the inside plastic liner is compostable. This, of course, is yet another example of Constantine’s ability to maximize the life of his products while additionally preserving the environment itself.
After stamping all two hundred-sum bags (with minor hand cramps along the way) we then turned our attention to labeling them. While we were working, Alyse and Constantine spoke briefly about the price of different labels in relation to their effectiveness, among many other business-related topics. Because I am a public health and communication major, it is seldom that I gain first-hand knowledge of how the business world operates. Thus, it was interesting to see how public health, communication, and business have the ability to merge together to create a single entity like Athens’ Own.
After labeling the bags, Alyse and I then proceeded to weigh and fill them with both ground and whole bean coffee. As we ground the coffee, Alyse explained the difference between the variety of coffees we sell. She showed me the differences in color; the dark coffee (French Roast) is a much darker color than the light coffee (Full City Roast), due to the greasiness of the bean itself. This is why, she explained, Athens’ Own always grinds the lightest coffee first, so as to avoid mixing this grease in with the lighter beans. She also explained that Athens’ Own only sells their flavored coffee, Highlander Grogg and Hazelnut, in bean form, as grinding and packaging them takes away from their overall flavor. By both understanding and harnessing the flavors of the beans, Athens’ Own works to always serve up the best cup of coffee to customers.
By the end of the day, Alyse and I had packaged coffee, hot spiced cashews, and Constantine’s pancake and waffle mix. In only a matter of hours, I learned an incredible amount of information in regards to Athens’ Own products and the business as a whole. To me, one of the impressive aspects of my internship with Athens’ Own is having the ability to learn about a different aspect of the business every day. I had now experienced and gained knowledge about Jackie O’s grain process, the Broadwell Learning Center, the Athens Farmers Market, and ACEnet in only a few days, and I look forward to learning much more in the future.
– Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern