A hidden treasure

West Campus partners with local coffeeshop to offer drinks to thirsty students and staff


Michelene Havard

Natallia Anderson serves a student at the Hidden Pearl, a local coffee shop that has teamed up with West Campus to serve drinks during the first few class periods of each school day.

Michelene Havard, Staff Writer

On weekday mornings, Natallia Anderson works her shifts at the Hidden Pearl coffee shop. She smells the strong roasted coffee, and warm hot chocolate, but focuses on her job—talking through a wide grin behind the register. She trains to be a barista with Alta Krischer, one of the shop owners. Customers constantly argue with her about the specific rules set by none other than MCHS. 

The Hidden Pearl is loved by many at West Campus, although not a lot of people know that Krischer is opening a coffee shop outside of school.

“Hidden Pearl is a brick-and-mortar coffee shop that is going to be on Green St. next to Jexels, but for the moment they are residing at West Campus,” Anderson said. “The West Campus’s menu is pretty basic, but the Hidden Pearl brick-and-mortar is going to be so much more extensive, with a food menu, but right now they are just a startup locally owned coffee shop looking to make it.”

Having a standard drink menu at MCHS seems to be working so far,  but if there is an increase in tardies, the shop will not be able to stay open after the first period. We have a very specific procedure where as soon as the bell rings we can’t take orders anymore to avoid people being late to class,” Anderson explained.

These limitations and others, like not selling during lunch periods, have frustrated students. “We are not allowed to sell food because the school doesn’t want us to be in competition with the cafeteria or vending machines,” Natallia spoke. “Our food would be fresh, homemade, and we would have simple ingredients rather than all the processed snacks in the vending machines. Hidden Pearl is open first, second, AIM, and third hour, and those are periods the lunch room isn’t selling food, so as much as we would like to sell our own food …  It’s just something the school will not let us do.”

Students are not the only ones who can order drinks from Hidden Pearl, teachers are able to order coffee from their desks. The Warrior Buddies help deliver drinks to the staff, and in return the shop donates 25 cents from every sale to the Warrior Buddies program.

“On our website we have a form for online orders and teachers put down their name and room number, and what they want to order,” Anderson explained. “We make their drink before AIM, and then the Warrior Buddies come down and deliver it to the teachers during the AIM … The Warrior Buddies are a group of special needs individuals around West Campus, and themselves and their teachers help us deliver the coffees.”

Everyone has their preference in taste, however Anderson has learned that the products sold at Hidden Pearl are a higher quality than at most name brand coffee shops.

“Maybe it’s my bias from working there, but I know the quality of coffee we have is so much better than Starbucks or Dunkin’,” she said. “And Hidden Pearl is really taking the time to teach me these things. All of our syrup flavorings like vanilla, caramel, and peppermint … are all from a brand called 1883 that are imported from France. ”

Quality is not the only thing at Hidden Pearl that puts it above other coffee shops. Anderson explains they are also environmentally friendly with the products they use for their customers. “The cool thing about Hidden Pearl is that every single one of the cups that look plastic,” she said. “Our 16 oz. cups for iced drinks, the lids and the straws are all 100% compostable. You put them in any sort of dirt or in a landfill they will decompose.”

With all this time and effort put into Hidden Pearl, it might seem that the work would pile up for Anderson. However, she has found not only that it’s not as tough as it may seem, but that she actually has benefitted working for Hidden Pearl.

“Honestly, work doesn’t affect my education. Normally I’d be watching Tik Toks in study hall, she laughed. “Now I’m making money during school, doing something I enjoy. So, if anything, I’m learning more than if I would have just stayed in those study halls.”

The Hidden Pearl may be just a small coffee shop inside the West Campus, but it has still made an impact within the school. From those who want a quick caffeine fix, to students who are able to gain further work experience on school time, Hidden Pearl has been able to provide a taste of what’s to come for its out-of-school counterpart.