Tiny House Club builds coffee cart for Co-op

Photo of the unpainted coffee cart
Courtesy of Tiny House Club

The Tiny House Club partnered with the Co-op and the Platteau to create a coffee cart that will be debuted later this semester.

The cart will be located between JR Howard Hall and Aubrey R Watzek Library, a common gathering place for students. The club has already constructed the base, but it still needs to be painted, equipped with supplies and staffed by Co-op trained baristas. Passersby will be able to drink batch-brewed Proud Mary coffee and Smith Tea Maker tea through a pay what you can model.

Elijah Black ’23, the current leader of the Tiny House Club, came up with the idea.

“Personally, I felt like I don’t like paying for coffee at the Dovecote every day,” Black said. “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there’s a little place that there was free coffee? But I remembered that we have this awesome club budget and we can build whatever we want.”

Mariah Schafhausen ’25 will be taking over the club after Black graduates. The coffee cart is the first project that Schafhausen is leading.

“That’s something that we can do in a day,” Schafhausen said. “It didn’t seem crazy for my first project. I’m seeing through something that I could design really easily.”

Black and Schafhausen decided to reach out to the Co-op for the collaboration rather than having a self-service coffee cart because they thought the barista system would ensure longevity and care for the project. Nick Biesterfield ’23, one of the Co-op managers, was excited for the opportunity.

“I saw the email come in and I was just – my heart skipped,” Biesterfield said. “This is so cool. That is just not something that we have the expertise to build ourselves nor the funds, and they have both.”

Collaboration is at the heart of this project. The cart will be stored where the Bike Co-Op is, another student run group. Additionally, one of the Platteau managers, Kincaid DeBell ’25, is designing the mural that will be painted on the cart. In the future, Tiny House Club is even hoping to build a newsstand into the cart to house issues of The Mossy Log.

“I want it to be something that the students can take pride in and see every day and (be reminded) that was their work,” Schafhausen said.

The student collaboration is part of why the project appealed to Biesterfield, in addition to bringing the Co-op to the academic side of campus.

“I’m always just a fan of keeping things in the community, generally speaking, and not giving our money to Bon Appétit,” Biesterfield said. “… And the fact that we run on a pay what you want model, and then whatever money is paid goes to the students who are serving the coffee. It very much is keeping the money in the student ecosystem.” 

Distinguishing itself from other coffee options on campus, the cart will not be offering disposable cups. Instead, the Co-op is working to buy travel mugs wholesale and will sell them at cost so they can replenish stock. 

“I don’t want to order a bunch of paper cups,” Biesterfield said. “This way, students will have a travel mug that they can bring with them whether they’re going to the Dovecote or another cafe in Portland or our coffee cart.”

For the remainder of the year, Tiny House Club plans to finish their tiny house, work with Students Engaged in Eco-Defense to have a birdhouse making workshop and plan construction for a stage in the Co-op.

“We’re kind of always looking for other collaborations,” Black said. “Since we have the tools and all the structures in place to build things, we just want to build things for other clubs.”

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