The Colby Café: Discussion, community, sustainability

On the counter in the Mary Low Coffee house sit the following items: a scale, a white ceramic coffee dripper, a piece of glassware that resembles a beaker, an electric kettle containing water heated to 201 degrees Fahrenheit, seven different types of coffee varying in region of bean origin and type of roast, a conical burr grinder, a burlap sack. Across the counter stand Colby Café Founding Members Peter Schow ’16 and Brendan Paquette ’16. Paquette is measuring out grounds and adding them to the dripper. “Go twenty-five and three ninety,” says Schow.

Recently founded by Schow Paquette, Clint Ross ’16, Silvia Xu ’16 and Andrew Fletcher ’15, The Colby Café seeks to use coffee as a tool to create discussion spaces for students and faculty alike. “[The club’s] mission is threefold,” Xu explained in an email correspondence: “(1) To promote the discussion and support of progressive agriculture, responsible sourcing and trade, and local sustainable industry, (2) To facilitate a space and community, centered around coffee, that promotes academic and social discourse, and (3) To develop a means for students to gain entrepreneurial and small business management skills.”

The far-reaching and multifaceted nature of this mission statement speaks not only to the versatility of coffee that the club emphasized, but also to the breadth of interest of its founders. Indeed the club exists as the result of the amalgamation of many different interests, all connected by coffee.

“My freshman year,” explained Schow, “I thought ‘wow, it’d be sick to have a coffee house at Colby.’ And then Clint Ross came to me after taking this sustainable business course…Brendan did the same thing…and last year Sylvia and I touched back on the idea of trying to get the Mary Low Coffee House going.”

So far, the club has seen quite a bit of interest from the Colby community. The Colby Café Facebook page has acquired over 175 likes since April and an email list of over 40 students. But the club expects to see even more growth as word begins to get around.

In addition to holding weekly coffee hours, the Colby Café has held coffee samplings and sales in the Street and has catered such events as the German Department’s Kaffeklatsch and the International Coffee Hour.

Making, serving and drinking coffee are of course central to the club’s activities, and the pride and seriousness with which the members approach the process is evident. For example, Schow later explained to me that “twenty-five and three ninety” refers to the ratio of grams of coffee grounds to grams of water. Paquette discussed his first cup of pour-over coffee: “That kind of awakened me to how good coffee could really be I had no idea before then. I was hooked after that.”

Xu, however, thinks that the club can do even more. “We want The Colby Café to help educate the student body on sustainability and social responsibility, as well as further strengthen our campus community.”

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