Using coffee to build community

by Alysun O'Brien

While money is slowly rolling in at the Holy Grounds Coffee Shop, its student workers say they are well on their way to accomplishing their ultimate goal – to build community.

“We will be paying off what we purchased for the next 4-5 years before we make a profit,” said Medea Saunders, assistant chaplain. “Our goals were more for building community.”

Saunders said that once the bills are paid the coffee shop’s profits will be given to fund RLC programming.

A hope for next year is to try and bring the Indianola community into Holy Grounds, a goal that has become one of the theme houses’ projects.

“We always thought we needed a coffee shop on campus,” said junior Bryan Willer. “And now we are trying to bring in the community.”

Holy Grounds has not done a great deal of publicizing except for signs on campus, ads in The Simpsonian and mass e-mails. There are intentions of having more advertising next year according to sophomore Sean McRoberts.

The students who are currently working at the coffee shop are doing it as a service project with their only pay being free drinks at Holy Grounds.

Saunders and the student employees said there has been a very positive response since opening Holy Grounds.

“Business keeps growing,” said Saunders. “We also are allowing students to have tabs, which they really like.”

Simpson students and faculty can now enjoy their cup of coffee from Holy Grounds a bit more knowing they are helping small farmers in the developing world.

“Our coffee comes from Fair Trade,” said Medea Saunders, assistant chaplain. “This buys the coffee from small farms and helps support farmers more.”

Equal Exchange, an interfaith coffee program, purchases 100 percent of its coffees from small farmer cooperatives allowing them to compete in a marketplace that would otherwise lock them out.

Equal Exchange shares risk with farmers by offering advance credit to co-ops for their coffee. This provides the farmers with funds for farm improvements as well as family expenses.

Holy Grounds found its home in Dirlam Lounge because it was space available, according to Saunders. It gives professors a place to come and grade papers and students a place to stop between classes. Dirlam has always been used for breakfast meetings, but is now being used for a hang out.

Two of the theme houses for next school year have decided to take on Holy Grounds as their service project.

“It was totally the houses’ idea,” said Saunders.

“Most of us have been doing it anyway,” said Willer. “We thought we would help to diversify and unify.”