The Meantime Coffee Co., a student-run nonprofit coffee shop located in the Campus Y, celebrated its five-year anniversary on Sept. 12 with a special birthday week menu.
“It feels really great to have made it to five years because that’s a huge thing,” said senior Alaina Plauche, chief executive officer of The Meantime. “It’s really hard for small businesses to compete, and to be a small business that is entirely run by students also feels sort of badass.”
The Meantime was opened in 2016 by three UNC students — Lauren Eaves, Keegan McBride and Scott Diekema — and is dedicated to providing its employees with professional development through barista training and the possibility to work on its executive team.
Plauche said she has been working at the coffee shop since 2018 and enjoys the little things about the job.
“My favorite thing about Meantime, to be very specific, is when the coffee grinder runs out of beans,” Plauche said. “And you get to refill the whole thing and pour a whole bag of coffee in there, because it’s so satisfying and I love the sound and the smell of it, and I really love that.”
The coffee shop focuses on sustainability by composting all of their coffee grounds and cups as well as through their “bring your own mug” initiative, which offers customers a discount on their order.
The Meantime sources their products ethically and locally — they partner with Carrboro Coffee Roasters for their coffee and barista training.
They also partner with other local student-run businesses, such as student-run cookie company Bibs Bites, to support the UNC community.
As a nonprofit, The Meantime also gives back to the University by funding the $8,000 stipend of one Global Gap Bridge Year Fellow every year. This program is run through the Campus Y.
The Global Gap Bridge Year Fellowship gives one or two sophomore students the opportunity to a year off from academics to travel and do service work.
Sarah Smith, UNC’s global civic engagement coordinator, said she has been working for the Campus Y since The Meantime Coffee Co. was founded, and has seen the cafe evolve over the past five years.
Smith said she feels incredibly proud to see how far the coffee shop has come since its inception.
“There were a lot of folks, I’ll be honest, who didn’t think it would make it, or didn’t even think it would come to fruition,” Smith said. “So I’m incredibly proud of our students for their leadership and their willingness to overcome these challenges.”
Junior Mia Lerner, co-chief marketing officer at The Meantime, said it is meaningful to be able to say that, even though the coffee shop went through many challenges throughout the pandemic, the team has made it to five years — and looks forward to many years ahead.
“Meantime has impacted so much of my professional goals beyond measure,” Lerner said. “But also on a personal level, I’ve been able to see my hard work become something that I’m proud of and I think it’s really made me want to be a part of something good and something bigger than me.”
Plauche said The Meantime helped her discover her interest in human resources when she worked as the chief human resources officer for the cafe. In addition, she learned how to rebuild the business as the University returned to in-person classes.
Plauche has loved seeing regular pre-pandemic customers come back to order.
“There’s this one person who brings in these adorable mugs and they’re perfectly cappuccino size,” Plauche said. “She gets a cappuccino every time, and I missed her mugs so much because, during the pandemic, we weren’t doing ‘bring your own mugs’ and we brought that initiative back. I’m so excited to see all of her cute mugs again.”
Seeing The Meantime grow and stay in business for years to come is a hope Plauche and Lerner both share.
“I would just invite students to come and try it for themselves,” Smith said. “If they’re looking for employment opportunities or just a place to grab a cup of coffee and meet with friends between classes, it’s such a wonderful resource for students.”
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