Bar-ista Mitzvah by Seth Golub, Ezra Coordinator | Camp Ramah Northern California

Bar-ista Mitzvah by Seth Golub, Ezra Coordinator

This summer, participants in Camp Ramah of Northern California’s Ezra (vocational training) program were excited and proud to launch a full-service café, serving freshly-ground coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and espresso drinks for the Ramah Galim staff.

The eponymous Café Ezra was inspired by similar programs at other Ramah locations, the café was seen as a way to provide a much needed service to hard-working camp staff, while providing a unique opportunity for Ezra participants to gain experience with a wide range of business, customer service, and food-handling skills.

Ezra staff were responsible for all aspects of café planning and operations. This included conducting market research on the types of drinks customers would want, developing a vision and scope for the cafe, finding and preparing an appropriate serving location, estimating demand and preparing budgets, researching and purchasing equipment and supplies – including a fun outing to Target and Starbucks – and developing standardized daily preparation, operation, cleaning, and safe food handling procedures. 

After a soft launch to become familiar with equipment and procedures, Ezra staff launched to brisk demand, typically preparing and delivering hot drinks for over 60 staff members each day, including fresh brewed coffee for the kitchen staff.  The Ezra team quickly developed barista skills, confidently preparing their customers’ favorite drinks, such as a double coconut-milk latte, with extra foam, served extra hot, for Camp Director Rabbi Sarah Shulman.

Café Ezra was made possible thanks to a grant from funds raised during the 2019 Ramah Israel Bike & Ride, which supports Tikvah programming at Ramah. The grant covered all startup costs, including equipment and supplies, and allowed drinks to be served at no cost to camp staff in the inaugural year.  In addition to providing practical, in-demand vocational and business skills, the Café Ezra program gave the Ezra staff (participants) Camp Ramah a chance to build confidence, friendships, and connections with the broader staff community.