Beans: “Coffee for Students, by Students”

Student-run coffeeshop Beans is a unique feature of DU’s campus. Offering “coffee for students, by students,” it serves a niche market and has a promising future.


Beans was originally a small operation started as a class in the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, with a new staff every quarter. Nine years ago, however, it was turned into its current state: a full-fledged business Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 8.49.58 PMentirely managed and staffed by DU students.


“The idea was to turn Beans into an ‘after-school job’ for students, for lack of a better term,” explained Mary Margaret Monacelli, a senior Hospitality major and one of Beans’ two managers. “So the school OK’ed it, gave us a budget to buy food and pay people, and it’s just grown from there.”


While Monacelli and her co-manager are still supervised by Knoebel school staff, they are enabled to make a majority of decisions regarding ordering, hiring, and day-to-day operations.


“Beans is a learning lab,” said Monacelli. “Not only do the students working get to learn how to be baristas, but the managers get to learn how to manage.”

This student-run nature creates a unique, fun atmosphere, according to Monacelli.


“Your barista gets what it’s like to be in Week 10…they’re in the struggle of classes with you, and I think that creates a very communal vibe,” said Monacelli.


“With all of the people from different majors we hire bringing their friends in, it creates a place for intersection to happen. It’s not just a place to come get coffee, it’s a place to see your friends, meet new people and make change.”


Beans also strives to enhance this community vibe with recurring events such as Open Mic Nights and Beans After Dark, a weekly night where alcohol is served.


“We definitely want Beans After Dark to become more of a student and faculty hang-out after a long week,” said

Beans Events Manager, Katherine Gibson

Beans Events Manager, Katherine Gibson

Katherine Gibson, the incoming Events Manager for Beans. “A lot of faculty members come, but we’re really trying to get the 21+ student crowd to get more interested.”


Beans also just opened a second location in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in the SIE Complex, which, despite roadblocks, has been a business and community success.


“The new location was supposed to open in Fall Quarter and then in Winter Quarter, but when it finally did in Spring Quarter people were really excited,” said Gibson. “It’s also been a transition with a different atmosphere here; the Korbel location is more quiet and studied focused, but we’re doing our best to cater to what the atmosphere is here without losing our brand.”


In fact, the Korbel location pulled more profits in its first day than the original location made in its first two years, according to Gibson.


With this level of popularity, Beans is showing signs of a promising future on campus – one that aligns with Monacelli’s ambitious vision.


“Personally, my vision is for Beans to become the coffee of DU,” said Monacelli. “Because we aren’t associated with Sodexo it’s difficult for us to grow, but with Korbel we’ve seen that we’re wanted. And the Newman Center has asked us to come.”


Though it may be a long process, Monacelli is eager and optimistic about this further expansion.


“Projects like these take a long time to develop, but every time they happen it’s huge, because that’s another student space where people get to be a part of Beans,” she said. “So I think eventually Beans will become the coffee that’s in the library, and where Jazzman’s currently is, and in every college on campus.”


NOTE: Justin and I did conduct a third interview with a student – we just decided not to use it given time constraints and the little it added to the story. (He didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say…)


2 Responses to Beans: “Coffee for Students, by Students”

  • Phalan Klein says:

    Hey Daniel,
    Your story was really cool and relevant to the DU community; I didn’t know the history of Beans or the extent that it was student run. I thought your b-roll shots were really relevant, kept the video moving. I liked the angle of the second interview with the coffee machine int he background and her uniform on, also she was positioned well on screen.

  • Jake Pemberton
    Jake Pemberton says:

    I enjoyed this video! It is relevant to the audience and interesting nonetheless. I was impressed with the intro shot, looked very professional. B-roll is relevant and interesting, and the interview shots are top notch. The lighting could have been better for the interviews but I’m sure you worked with what you had; it still worked and was great to watch. I like the closing remark too. Good job!

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