It might normally be straining to find students active on campus on a Saturday morning, but that is not the case for the members of one of Ohio State’s newest student organizations, the Student Coffee Association.
The organization hopes to “grow the community around coffee,” said Matt Forquer, president of the Student Coffee Association and a third-year in mechanical engineering.
“(Coffee) is a bonding experience,” Forquer said. With coffee, people are able to share their tastes while gaining a “caffeine buzz.”
The association intends to gather students with similar passions for coffee.
Part of Forquer’s inspiration for starting the organization was to “meet other people that I could share this knowledge with and learn alongside with.”
Logan McClish, vice president and treasurer for the organization, as well as a third-year in ecological engineering, agrees.
“People’s entire fortunes and lifestyles are built around this one product, so that really drew me to want to learn more and to want to meet more people who had these sort of passions,” McClish said.
McClish says the organization is also meant to educate people about coffee.
“I’ve always drank coffee. It was something that you did everyday, and there wasn’t a lot of personality with it,” McClish said. “We should educate ourselves on it. We should be aware of what goes on behind it culturally.”
Forquer needed other people to help him start the association and some free time. Both those things came together this semester when Forquer’s “passion” for coffee eventually led him to get in contact with McClish to create the group over winter break.
The organization’s third meeting occurred at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 14. It was their first event open to the student body, as well as their first event with an actual coffee shop. The meeting was held at south campus’ Boston Stoker, a Dayton-based coffee company.
The meeting was largely dedicated to a presentation by Erik Fenstermacher, manger of Boston Stoker. Fenstermacher presented a slide show containing photographs from coffee farms from which Boston Stoker sources coffee, including farms located in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Indonesia.
The slide show was followed by a coffee cupping, which according to Fenstermacher is the “international, standardized method for tasting coffee.”
Fensternacher provided eight coffees for the cupping: three African coffees, two Indonesian coffees and three Central American coffees.
The cupping process begins with observing the aroma of the dry, ground coffee. The coffee grounds are then steeped in hot water. The crust is then broken on the coffee, and then small amounts of brewed coffee is slurped and then spit out by the taster with the use of a spoon.
Fenstermacher suggested that it is best to “slurp as loudly as possible.” In this manner, the taster is able to get the coffee to spread over the whole tongue, allowing the taster to notice all of the qualities of the coffee. The coffee is spit out so that the taster does not become overly caffeinated, which can affect the taster’s pallet.
The cupping process is “unfiltered and unchanged”, Fenstermacher said. It allows coffee growers and coffee roasters to point out defects in the coffee.
Events such as this with Boston Stoker are the kind of activities that association wants to keep doing.
“I like this right now,” Forquer said. “Just having a group of people hanging out, tasting coffee, chatting with baristas, just gathering information. I feel like we need to figure out a way to spread that information elsewhere.”
Even with the desire to spread information about coffee, Forquer likes the small atmosphere of the group currently; only about a dozen members attended the meeting Saturday morning.
Mcclish has another goal for the Student Coffee Association.
“I would like to see more environmentally friendly coffee drinking on campus,” said McClish. “I would like to see us have an impact and really advocate for travel mug usage (and) organic coffees.”
Forquer is interested in having the organization promote the basics of making a good cup of coffee.
“My focus is more on just making a good cup,” Forquer said, “and you happen to make a good cup through having good relationships with the farmers, the growers, the sorters and having a good relationship throughout the whole production process and paying people a fair wage. Having a sustainable environment to grow coffee in makes better coffee.”
McClish intends to have more events for the Student Coffee Association around Columbus, as well as on campus, in the future.