BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
Mo’Coffee, a student-run cooperative that plans to sell coffee on campus, has been a growing presence within the Mount Holyoke community since spring 2016. Originally operating out of the All Saints Episcopal Church and occasional pop-ups across campus, Mo’Coffee announced its new base in Blanchard 227 earlier this semester. However, “coordination issues” have caused delays in the cooperative’s opening.
Mo’Coffee was first scheduled to open its doors in the new space on March 20, and to serve coffee every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. However, several setbacks including delays in shipping from their supplier, Equal Exchange, reportedly forced the student workers to postpone the opening until last Tuesday. Additional issues on Tuesday prompted a further delay, and the new soft-open date is set for April 3.
A statement from Mo’Coffee that was released Wednesday morning explained that the cooperative ran into “unforeseen challenges” on Tuesday morning which they needed to address this week before opening next Tuesday.
“Mo’Coffee would like to thank all of you who came out to purchase a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning or planned to visit our location at 227 Blanchard this week only to discover we were not there to serve you. We are deeply sorry for this,” the statement read. They also said that Mo’Coffee will be offering free coffee on April 3 to make it up to their patrons and confirmed that they will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8:15-9:15 a.m. throughout the rest of the semester. “We appreciate your patience and support as we learn how work cooperatively and how to serve you the best cup of coffee on campus,” they said.
The cooperative is run by students in Professor Ali Aslam’s Future of Work class, in which they are learning about cooperative businesses. Participating in the student owned co-op comprises the experimental aspect of the class.
Daiana Griffith Ozuna ’19 is one of the students in that class. Ozuna was scheduled to work the opening of Mo’Coffee on Tuesday morning, but learned upon arrival that the co-op would not be ready to open. “I was certainly disappointed because this is something that as a class we have been planning and talking about for most of the semester,” they said. “But I also understand that getting a project like this off the ground is not easy so that inevitably there will some challenges we’ll have to deal with.”
Still, Ozuna expressed optimism on behalf of themself and others involved. “Despite the challenges, we as a class are very enthusiastic about Mo’Coffee, so we’re hoping we’ll be opening pretty soon,” they said.
In addition to teaching a class with a co-op practicum, Professor Ali Aslam taught the 300-level politics seminar on capitalism where the idea for Mo’Coffee was originally conceived. Within the class there was a unit on alter-capitalisms during which Adam Trott, director of the Valley Alliance of Worker Coops, visited the class to discuss the role of co-ops in the Pioneer Valley. The visit prompted an in-class conversation about creating a co-op that would benefit the Mount Holyoke community.
After the discussion, Aslam replaced the final paper originally assigned for the development of a campus co-op.
Aslam noted that Mo’Coffee, as well as other co-ops, can play an extremely important role in collegiate settings. “They align with the mission of producing students who will be knowledgeable, democratic citizens of the world, learned in the arts of cooperative and collective decision making,” he said.
Cooperatives also offer “tangible work experience in co-management, entrepreneurship and running a business that no internship or junior level position can rival,” he said.