Green Bean opens with a festive gathering after a two-year hiatus

Green Bean Valentines
Chloe Ford (first year) orders from the Green Bean, which is festively decorated for Valentine's Day at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental

Occidental’s student-run coffee shop, the Green Bean, was decorated with fairy lights, colorful ribbons and balloons tied down to Yerba Mate bottles Feb. 5. Students decorated the patio as they lined up to order while Occidental’s student-run radio station, KOXY, organized student performers. The event marked the first time the Green Bean has opened its doors since Occidental closed its residence halls March 2020.

Kristie Dela Cruz (sophomore) attended the event after hearing upperclassmen discuss their excitement about the Green Bean’s reopening.

“All the upperclassmen will always rave about it [the Green Bean], so I really wanted to try it. And my friend is performing for the KOXY event,” Dela Cruz said. “It’s just really nice to sit amongst my peers and drink coffee. It kind of felt like an outdoor cafe, it was really nice.”

The KOXY collaboration was organized in part by Johnna Munsen (senior), the programming and customer experience manager at the Green Bean.

“Planning the KOXY event was really fun,” Munsen said. “It’s fun to collaborate with other student organizations, especially because KOXY has a similar structure to us with managers and it’s all totally student run. So that was honestly a really great time.”

The KOXY event had four drinks: a regular latte, the Spicy Mocha, the Ferrero Rocher latte and the Eagle Rock Sunset. Although not officially on the menu, these drinks are still available by request.

“You can order them,” Munsen said. “They’re kind of like secret menu items.”

Despite the great news of a reopening, Munsen said there will be some bumps in the road due to the two-year hiatus.

“There was no plan to come back two years later, there was a plan to come back two weeks later,” Munsen said. “So there’s just stuff like sifting through the file cabinets to find old ordering logs to find out where we get our oatmeal from, all that kind of thing. So that’s been the stressful aspect of it.”

Since the reopening, students have begun to incorporate the Green Bean back into their day-to-day lives. Phoebe Patinkin (senior) said she was a regular at the Green Bean and is thrilled to reintegrate their coffee into her daily routine.

“Coffee is part of my daily ritual, my daily routine, and now that the Green Bean’s open, it’s a higher quality routine,” Patinkin said.

According to Patinkin, the atmosphere in the Green Bean was lively and ran more smoothly because the new hires were joining more experienced student workers.

“I think we missed out on a year or two of having the Green Bean community, the students at Oxy that love coffee and do their homework in the Green Bean,” Patinkin said. “I expect that it will get that way again. … I expect that now that there are new baristas that are hired, they are going to start to get to know and love the place.”

According to Munsen, the Green Bean sources its coffee beans from Seattle-based company Caffe Vita, which differentiates its coffee from other dining spots on campus. The Green Bean also does multiple training sessions with baristas to ensure they are well prepared.

“We have a training rep from Caffe Vita come in and give all of our baristas coffee-specific training and espresso-specific training and make sure they really know what they’re doing. And then we train them as well,” Munsen said.

Student art was another unique aspect of the Green Bean experience. Patinkin said in her first and second year at Occidental, the Green Bean’s walls were covered with students’ art, and students could apply to have their art displayed. According to Munsen, the art is back up now, and this semester it will be slightly different because the Green Bean is planning to show multiple artists.

“This coming semester, we’re mostly hoping to do multiple student artists at a time,” Munsen said. “Sometimes in the past, it’s been one at a time. I’m planning to put up a little group show from three different artists, and then in three weeks we’ll be changed.”

According to Munsen, the Green Bean is fully run by students, so it does not always run as smoothly as an off-campus coffee shop, especially since new students are still becoming familiar with the Green Bean. Munsen said students should be patient at the Green Bean, knowing that there might be a wait for their drinks and not expecting that everything will always be available.

“I just realized, people don’t all know what the Green Bean was like before, but getting to the front of the line and hearing that we’re out of oat milk is a universal Green Bean experience,” Munsen said. “We’re full-time students. And sometimes, we don’t order enough milk, we’re busy too, so just being patient and nice would be great.”

According to Patinkin, although the pandemic has affected some aspects of the space, the positive atmosphere continues to attract students.

“The environment has changed in a COVID sense but in terms of the positive energy that you get in there … I think that has remained the same,” Patinkin said.