Many University students are more than willing to hike uphill to Small World Coffee or Starbucks and cough up four or five dollars for a cup of joe. Starting April 14, however, an alternative option will be celebrating its grand opening.
A coffee shop named The Coffee Club, run and staffed entirely by University students, will be taking over the taproom in Campus Club.
Alex Kaplan ’21 is one of four members of Princeton Coffee Club’s business team. Kaplan has been working closely with Emily Yu ’22, Sara Miller ’22, and Josh Becker ’19 for nearly a year and a half to get the shop up and running.
The idea for the shop was born out of efforts to revitalize the Princeton Coffee Club, which was founded six years ago but, according to Kaplan, died out around a year later. When Kaplan arrived on campus as a first-year, he connected with the founders of the club and worked to revamp its presence on campus.
Princeton Coffee Club has hosted professional tasting and sampling events and, most recently, a week-long pop-up coffee shop during 2019 Intersession. Amid all of this, they have also been working to make a student-run coffee shop a reality on campus.
“Princeton’s the only Ivy League school without a student-run coffee shop on campus,” Kaplan said. He believed it was time to change that.
The business team handled everything from garnering the support of University administration to learning how to handle the equipment side of the coffee business.
“The hardest thing has been coordinating this espresso machine. It’s the biggest, most prominent, most expensive equipment in the shop,” Kaplan said. “Tom Corcoran and the facilities office have done great things for us. They guided us through all the crazy things we had no idea how to do.”
Kaplan explained that they also worked very closely with the Princeton Student Agencies Council.
“The Coffee Club will be managed by the newly-formed Coffee Agency, which is one of 15 student-run businesses within Princeton Student Agencies,” Student Agencies Program Coordinator Jessica Popkin explained in an email to the Daily Princetonian. “It’s been so much fun and incredibly rewarding to work with the students to bring this coffee shop to life.”
The club wants its shop to focus on inclusivity. Kaplan and his team hope that the shop will become a comfortable and welcoming space to hang out.
Kaplan said the shop will also be committed to maintaining the lowest coffee prices both on and off campus while still serving high-quality drinks and snacks.
“We’re conditioned to expect to pay $3.50 or more for a really good cup of coffee,” Kaplan said. “That doesn’t have to be the case, and it won’t be anymore.”
The club currently plans to charge two dollars for a cup of coffee.
Kaplan also hopes that the shop will become a space to celebrate the arts and plans on hosting open-mic nights, stand-up comedy events, and more in the shop.
Hoping to be contrary to what Kaplan describes as the “general air of flakiness at Princeton,” he and his team hope that the student-run shop can instead become a constant and consistent feature of campus life.
Most of all, however, Kaplan and the Club’s primary focus will be coffee quality.
“I think we’ll have the best coffee in the town,” Kaplan said. “It’s important to us that we’re serving really good coffee.”
Miller closely echoed Kaplan’s sentiment and expressed optimism for the shop’s prospects.
“This is going to be a better coffee spot than the rest that are on campus,” Miller said. “I think it’s super exciting. I think the whole team is so passionate about it, and we all really just want to prove that this is legit, and this is going to be a real coffee shop on campus.”