Where there is coffee, there is a college student. Where there is cheap coffee, there is a flock of college students. For years, Covenant’s psychology department has been providing inexpensive fresh-roasted local coffee to the student body every day during the week in their commons. The psych commons, located on the second floor of Mills Hall is open to all students and faculty on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We see it as one of the services we do to the campus as a whole to provide hospitality and a comfortable place that’s inviting and relaxing,” says Dr. Eames, Associate Professor of Psychology.
The psych commons provides two kinds of coffee: one pot of Folgers coffee, free for any student desperate for a caffeine pick-me-up, and another pot of freshly-ground beans from the Chattanooga Coffee Company, or Chattz, for fifty cents a cup. Mugs are provided as well as a way to stay environmentally friendly.
“I really appreciate their support of local businesses like Chattz,” says sophomore Andrew Christenberry, a frequent visitor to the psych commons. “And this coffee provides a break from the monotonous flavor of Great Hall coffee.”
The psych commons makes approximately 80 cups of free coffee and 100 cups of Chattz coffee per day, though the amount of coffee that students take depends on the academic busyness of the week. Not only do students take advantage of this coffee service, but professors do as well.
“This form of hospitality ends up fostering student and faculty relationships,” says Christina Klukow, head student employee of the psych commons. “It’s hard to dislike a professor who makes casual conversation with you around the coffee pot, so it’s a great relationship builder.”
Klukow, who oversees the student employees as well as coffee sales and supplies, tries to keep the psych commons a comfortable and hospitable place. Her job, however, can be frustrating because many students take coffee without paying for it. Also, the commons loses up to 300 mugs a semester because students either keep them, lose them, or throw them away. At the end of each semester, the commons receives some mugs back, but never enough to replenish their supply.
The psychology professors and student employees try to be gracious with their customers by not worrying too much about the loss of mugs and coffee, even if it makes their jobs sometimes frustrating.
“For the sake of not destroying the atmosphere, we don’t chase everyone down who hasn’t paid his or her dues,” says Klukow. “We know who they are, though, and it’s disappointing because it shows a lack of integrity in the students.”
The psych department pays for the coffee supplies out of its own budget from Student Development, and does not earn any profit from this service. If their customers pay what they actually owe, the commons is able to buy extra luxuries like expensive sweeteners and flavored creamers. However, they are currently unable to buy anything extra because of their debt. The professors do not see this as an issue, though, as the coffee distribution is purely a service to the school.
“If we were really that concerned about this,” says Eames, “we would have Styrofoam cups or make them bring their own mugs. Our primary interest is for people to be comfortable and see the importance of Christian hospitality.”