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Learning with your Latté: PopUp College

Learning with your Latté: PopUp College

Many bookshop chains in the United States have a coffee bar where shoppers can read in comfort with a pastry and a skinny latté or caramel macchiato. It’s a pretty good business idea, because even as people are evaluating books and making buying decisions, the store is selling them coffee. For the customer, it beats leafing through books whilst standing in aisles.

A recent British initiative is turning this idea around and bringing the learning to pre-existing coffee shops. Pop-up colleges are appearing in branches of Costa Coffee as soon as the store ends its regular business day. The idea is to provide adult education to those who might be intimidated by a formal classroom setting. It offers a chance to learn something new over a coffee and a cake in a more social setting.

PopUp College launched this week after a period of gestation since its founding in 2015 by Jason Elsom. It has partnered with Costa Coffee and a number of regional colleges to provide evening classes at branches of Costa.

Chief executive Jason Elsom from PopUp College said: ‘At a time when adult education is under threat, we wanted to give people the chance to come in one night a week and learn a new skill, have some fun and also socialise at the same time.

The Costa store creates a welcoming environment for adults who want to learn, but are put off by the idea of a traditional college classroom.’

The courses are a mix of Business, Creative, ESOL and languages, as well as SATS preparation in child/parent classes.

On the creative side, attendees can learn Indian Head Massage, Art History, Life Drawing, Fantasy Illustration, Wine Appreciation, Sugarcraft, German, Spanish, Vintage Crafts, Wire Jewellery Making and Needlecraft.

Business skills on offer include Business Startup for Beginners, Holistic Marketing, Letting Property and Employment Law. This is at the time of writing and more will surely be added since PopUp College is still in its launch week.

Languages are Italian, Spanish, French and German. The above is just a selection; the courses on offer will depend on location. London currently has 105 different courses in various locations throughout the city and provincial towns have between 5 and 20 subjects. As the PopUp Colleges evolve, doubtless new courses will be added and undersubscribed ones will be removed.

Lesley Roberts, Vice Principal for Business Development and Employer Engagement at Costa Coffee, said: ‘We're delighted to be hosting just a few of our popular community learning programmes. I think this new way of engaging in courses with a 'cuppa' will prove really successful.

‘One of the many benefits of this kind of flexible learning is that it enables individuals to include education into their busy weekly schedules.

‘Maybe once people have had a taste of this flexible way of learning in a venue such as Costa, they may be inspired to enrol on future college courses.’