Calvin College Chimes

Plans brew for a new coffee shop in library

Photo+by+Emma+Crevier.
Photo by Emma Crevier.

Photo by Emma Crevier.

Photo by Emma Crevier.

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Calvin’s administration recently approved a plan for a new coffee shop in Hekman Library. If backed by the board of trustees and planning and priorities committee, renovations will roll out during interim of 2019.

The idea for a new coffee shop at Calvin is not a recent one; a few years ago, Calvin considered partnering with Starbucks, but decided against it. The primary reason for this was that the Calvin administration believed Starbucks did not fit with the library or college’s vision of a community space.

Since then, Dean of Students John Witte, along with several others, headed up a new master plan investigating what a new coffee shop could look like for the library and the campus as a whole.

Having a community space — much like a “living room,” said Witte — became a primary aspect of the master plan. The team decided that the library’s second floor, as opposed to the third floor, would best meet this need due to accessibility concerns.

Peet’s Coffee — one of the largest coffee companies in the nation — was chosen among a few potential coffee vendors. Though the committee reached out to several local vendors, they only received one response.

“Peet’s is known for high quality products, excellent bean-sourcing through long-term and fair commitments with coffee growers and their communities, sustainability practices, social responsibility as a company and very positive reputation on social media,” Witte said.

Witte noted that the Fish House, the campus’ current coffee shop, has served Calvin’s community well, but due to the location’s lack of a water drain it has become difficult for workers to bring water in and out daily from Commons Dining Hall. With the help of student senate and other students’ feedback, the planning committee was able to gauge how other needs could be met in the new space.

Junior Meg MacNamara, a student worker at the Fish House, gave her take on the move:

“I’m a fan of it. It means we’re closer to students who are studying … and puts us in a more central location … Having somebody who can sponsor us or provide us with great equipment and training is a plus for us but also everyone.”

Student workers at the Fish House will still be employed at the new coffee shop, according to Johnny’s retail managers Nikolai Gorski and Maree Denof. The managerial aspect of the coffee shop — whether it would be run by the college or Peet’s — has yet to be determined.

The coffee shop would serve the library’s vision as well. The “landscape [of libraries] has changed quite a bit,” said David Malone, dean of the college and seminary library. Public libraries are moving from “collection-centric to user-centric” spaces, he commented, and they are doing so through initiatives such as renting out bikes and facilitating community gatherings. Because gathering spaces are central to academic libraries’ use, a coffee shop would serve Hekman Library quite well.

Members of the planning committee for cafe renovations include Barb Boers, director of financial services; Russell Bray, director of physical plant; Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement; Kennedy Genzink, student senator; David Malone, dean of college and seminary library; Dan Wells, head of technology services and John Witte, dean of students.

5 Comments

5 Responses to “Plans brew for a new coffee shop in library”

  1. Joe McCarthy on May 3rd, 2018 2:07 pm

    Am I the only one who finds it strange that Calvin is considering partnering with Peet’s Coffee? Although I am in favor of the new coffee shop, I am questioning if Peet’s Coffee if the best choice for Calvin. Peet’s Coffee is a West-Coast coffee roastery with no relation to Calvin or West Michigan. Peet’s Coffee’s closest location is in the Chicago area. If Calvin does not feel that Starbucks, which is on a lot of college campuses, is right, I challenge them to explore what other similar colleges have chosen as an alternative. Has Calvin considered partnering with a local coffee roastery such as Ferris, who’s coffee is currently served in the Fish House and around campus, or Madcap, who’s pop-up cafe was very popular during the recent Festival of Faith & Writing?

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    Alexandra Reply:

    I completely agree, Peet’s would be a weird choice. I would rather have a company that’s part of the community. Even Uncommon Coffee Roasters or Simpatico could be cool even though they’re from the Saugatuck/Holland area. Although if Madcap wasinterested I 100% would be in favor.

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  2. Stephen on May 3rd, 2018 9:50 pm

    As one of the first employees of the Fish House in the late 90s, I’d applaud the move to the Library but boo the pairing with Peet’s. You can do better, Calvin.

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  3. Alejandra Crevier on May 4th, 2018 12:47 am

    Hey! Ale, author of the article here. I appreciate your thoughts on this — I had similar concerns. I should have mentioned names in the article, but Calvin did reach out to both MadCap and Ferris as well as a few other local vendors. These vendors and MadCap turned down the offer to propose a business partnership, but Ferris reached out.

    Fishhouse workers did express that Ferris has held a good relationship with Calvin at the current coffee shop. Yet Ferris offered a different vision for management and support of a Calvin coffee shop than what Calvin was looking for, according to the committee. I’m looking further into this decision, particularly from an environmental/local community perspective as Peet’s grows globally sourced beans and is almost as large as Starbucks in the U.S.

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  4. David on May 4th, 2018 2:54 pm

    Peet was Dutch!! ;-P

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