Coffee house gets a 2017 update

Stepping into the new Mary Low Coffee House takes one’s breath away. It is unlike any other building on campus and was initiated and run all by Colby students.

The idea, creation, design, and programming for the space were spearheaded by current and past students at Colby. Maggie Burgos `18, who is a barista at the coffee house, said that it has been a great experience building and creat- ing the idea of the coffee house. “Watching more and more students come into the Mary Low coffee house has been really satisfying especially because a main goal is for this space to be comfortable for all students to either come and hang with friends or to do homework alone, whatever someone needs, this space should provide it,” said Burgos. However, it’s been a long process getting to this point.

Kim Donaldson ’17 came into Colby her freshman year and no- ticed the lack in usage of the Mary Low Coffee House and the lack of coffee. “I asked campus life how the Mary Low Coffee House could work again, and become more of a coffee house and a space for students,” said Donaldson. Donaldson, at first, did not get an affirmative answer from Campus Life about how to use the Coffee House; however, she soon found others on campus who shared similar thoughts about how the coffee house could be used to benefit Colby’s community.

Burgos was one of the students who shared those thoughts. Once at Colby, Burgos joined the Mary Low coffee club. “This was the first step we took to show the administration we were serious about wanting a coffee house on campus,” said Burgos. The club consisted of a few baristas with some money for an espresso machine. Although baristas were paid and the club was getting a bit more publicity, the hours for the coffeehouse were irregular (usually nights and on weekends), so the club continued to push for better hours and a more legitimate space. Coming back from being abroad, Donaldson kicked off her senior year with a big push for renovating and legitimizing the Mary Low Coffee House.

“During my time abroad in Scotland, I took an anthropology class where I had to do ethnographic research in Edinburgh,” said Donaldson “and I chose to study coffee houses.” During her time abroad, Donaldson went into coffee houses and observed how the design of the space interacts with the people and how that creates interactions with the coffee. Donaldson was interested in “independent coffee houses that created their own style with different demographics and a space where individuals come together and can be alone together.”

Donaldson enrolled in Anthropology of Public Engagement with Professor Besteman, where she continued her ethnographic work by observing how students used the Mary Low Coffee House. It was during these observations when Donaldson began gaining more support in making Mary Low Coffee House into a working and regular café.

During the spring of 2017, Donaldson and Mia Hamilton ’19, set up a meeting with President Greene and Brian Clark to discuss creating a coffee house. During this initial meeting, Donaldson and Hamilton were able to discuss their goals of the space and Donaldson was able to share the 3D model she created. “President Greene, on the spot, said we are going to make this a thing and we will fund you,” said Donaldson. Hamilton also describes this meeting and said “it was a great feeling to have immediate support from President Greene and the administration.”

Throughout this past summer Hamilton and Donaldson were able to work alongside with Campus Life and PPD to begin the renovations for the coffeehouse. Donaldson, now Assistant Director of Admissions as well as the liaison for the coffee house, said that planning and creating the layout for the space was an incredible experience, especially with the continued support of Campus Life and PPD. “The fact that this has been a really amazing effort that has been, over time, influenced by different hands contributing to the project, and they have all been really positive contributions,” said Donaldson. “It also shows the importance of student initiative and really solidifies the fact that this will be part of Colby for a really long time.”

Burgos, Donaldson, and Hamilton all share the same goal of using this amazing space for all students, faculty, and staff. All agree that this should be a shared, safe space for all to be imaginative and creative. “It’s a place where we can be together, even if we are alone together” said Donaldson. But there is more to come of this space. Hamilton explains her desire to keep improving the space, “at some point I want it to be open to all of the Waterville community,” said Hamilton.

With many future goals for the space as well as initiative to allow any and all to use it, the Mary Low Coffee House is ready and here for all of the Colby Community. With a new website as well, https://marylowcoffeehouse., the Mary Low Coffee House and those who work there “want it to be a place that is less hectic than the Spa and an area where you know your barista and know where you are getting your coffee from,” said Hamilton. Using this website, students can see what events are happening, the Barista’s Spotify playlist, and where the coffee house is getting their beans, which are all from local spots in Maine. The dedication, work, and love by students, faculty, and staff for this coffee house shines brightly in the design and the aura one gets when walking into the space. It is strongly encouraged that all walk in and take a look, “even if you do not like coffee, you should still come and enjoy what we have to offer,” said Burgos.

Hours are: Sunday – Thursday 8am-4pm.

Leave a Reply