From caramel apple cider to regular black coffee, there might soon be another option available for students, faculty and staff who crave caffeine on Albion’s campus.
The college administration—primarily Mike Frandsen, vice president of administration and finance—has approved a student proposal to explore the option of opening an entrepreneurial student-run coffee house, so that the group of students can now begin to create an operational business plan. The proposal comes after the decision to close the residential coffee house last semester, which took effect at the beginning of this semester .
The new coffee house, which the group hopes will be fully operational by the start of next semester, will be located in the former residential coffee house located between Mitchell Towers and Baldwin Hall. The students will also sell coffee from carts in the Kellogg Center and science complex, according to the proposal created by Cody Bailey, Canton junior.
“(The new coffee house is more of) an economics lab; you actually get to put what you learn in the classroom into real life,” Bailey said. “We can cover anything except maybe pre-health. The entire idea is how we’re trying to make it open to everyone, not just close it off to the basement of Robinson.”
Involvement in the proposed coffee house does not currently count as an academic credit, but it probably will in the future, said Tom Bryant, director of the Gerstacker Institute, who acts as project advisor to the students running the coffee house.
With initial approval granted, the next step on the road to potentially approving the coffee house’s operation is to create the operating plan, which includes factors such as budget, health code requirements, equipment and staffing hours, Bryant said.
“The current plan is this will run as a special unit of dining services to access the facilities and financial gathering system,” Bryant said. “The critical consideration at the moment is what is the maximum cash requirement—what does it take to stock everything, and how much are we going to be likely to sell?”
Bryant said the final budget has not yet been set because the operating plan is still in development. The operating plan will first be looked over by Bryant and then submitted to Mike Frandsen, vice president of administration and finance and Susan Conner, provost, for approval in the next few weeks.
During Homecoming weekend, Bryant and the group of students conducted their first market research trial. They offered free cups of coffee and cider to students, faculty and staff, giving away about 150-200 samples and asked people to respond to several questions.
“One of the questions we asked was ‘Would fair trade be important to you?’” Bryant said. “The younger people were, the more they said, ‘What?’ The older they were, they more they said, ‘Definitely.’ Now we have to sort that data out.”
Several more trial runs will be conducted in the next several weeks, including two in the Kellogg Center and science complex atrium and one in the library bridge located in Stockwell-Mudd Libraries.
Stephanie Potocny has been in charge of organizing the coffee house’s potential programming, including events like open mic nights and televised sporting events complete with pizza.
The group is also trying to coordinate programming in conjunction with some of the students who ran the former coffee house, Bailey said.
“We have a long list of stuff (from) karaoke nights to discussions with professors,” Potocny said. “We wanted to appeal to all different kinds of people and different academic departments. Starting up things would be smaller, but then as we gathered more of a following we could do some bigger things.”