c/o Georgia Groome, Staff Photographer

c/o Georgia Groome, Staff Photographer

Espwesso, the University’s student-run café, reopened at regular hours and full capacity on Monday, Oct. 18. After closing in March 2020 due to the pandemic and briefly reopening from March to May 2021, the café is back up and running with eleven baristas and a new vision for this academic year.

General Manager Asher Leeming ’22 explained why he felt a delay in Espwesso’s start this semester was necessary.

“This semester, my biggest philosophy with opening the café was opening right,” Leeming said. “I wanted to open and I wanted to stay open, and I wanted to open at full capacity with fully trained baristas. We just about doubled our staff, so I wanted to fully train everybody, make sure everyone was on the same page as well as kind of just make sure when we opened, we were ready to hit the ground running instead of a soft open that would just confuse people more.… So this year I did take my time opening just because I wanted to do it right.”

Leeming also explained how supply shortages inhibited the reopening process.

“There’s a pretty significant delay between when we feel like we need to order something and when we’re actually able to,” Leeming said. “The most common situation we run into is one of my baristas will say at the end of the day, ‘Oh we’re running low on oat milk,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I’m making a note, we gotta order oat milk.’ And it takes us sometimes five, six days to even get an appointment. And then two more days after that to actually get the shipment. So there’s a pretty significant delay between knowing we’re running outta something and actually ordering it.”

In addition to these supply issues, bureaucratic interactions between Espwesso and the University and the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) also bogged down the café’s start, according to both Leeming and Eswpesso Financial Manager Frankie Morales ’23. 

“It can get pretty tough because, obviously, some days are busier than others, and it can be little difficult too, because the way that we run things is that we’re mainly operating with our own income but we don’t handle our own money, the [WSA] basically does,” Morales said. “Sometimes there’s some miscommunication and so there’s other times if we gotta put an order, we need an appointment and [they say] ‘Sorry, we’re busy that day.’”

Despite this, Leeming has high hopes for the reopened café. He spoke to the new methods that Espwesso is implementing in order to keep better track of its sales, what items are popular, and what items need to be purchased more frequently than others.

“Now that we have a better idea of…how much we’re making versus how much we’re spending on materials every week, I have a better idea of what we need to order each week, and I have several goals in terms of actually streamlining that process,” Leeming said. “We have a recurring weekly meeting to ensure that we’re never really outta stock…. We’ve also invested in an iPad so we have a point of sale system so that we can actually know how much stuff we’re selling, which is a really big change.”

Morales, who had not worked at Espwesso before this semester, spoke on the challenges of starting in such a major role this semester.

“I put in an application over the summer, interviewed, etc.,” Morales said. “They’re like, ‘We think you should do this,’ and I was like, ‘Okay!’…which has been a whirlwind, especially cause it’s just like, I guess things have been a lot more normal than what they had been last year too. But it’s really fun. I love working here. It can be frustrating to deal with all the bureaucracy, but besides that it’s been smooth.”

With a new, larger, and more freshly trained staff, Leeming is hopeful that, as the semester goes on, the café can branch out more and become more involved in the University’s community.

“The first month was just doing [training],” Leeming said. “This last month has been opening and, like I said, adjusting inventory, working out the hours, working out who’s working when, figuring out what we’re gonna order, what’s been selling, what’s not been selling, all that. And now that we’ve kind of settled into the regular, we can start doing the extraordinary, like we could start doing the next stuff, which is offering more diverse menu items, as well as having events and just getting our name out there more in the Wesleyan community. It’s exciting!”

Espwesso is open at full capacity on the ground floor of the Allbritton Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays, and 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Events can be reserved in the café via WesNest.

“Just come to Espwesso, we have good coffee and good vibes,” Morales said.

Sam Hilton can be reached at shilton@wesleyan.edu.

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