Free Coffee Hours to Coffee-Free Hours

“It’s free?” asks a student, hovering at the register.

“You’re all right,” replies Dorothy E. “Dottie” Melin, supervisor at the café in the Barker Center rotunda. “A lot of them aren’t too sure—they think they’re stealing the coffee,” she explains.

As humanities concentrators have known for ages, you can get free Starbucks every weekday morning in the Barker Center (what—you’re still paying 3 bucks for it on Church Street?). Although this may sound like a sweet deal to those who’ve never hit up the rotunda for a jolt of free caffeine, Barker Center regulars are lamenting the passing of the good old days.

In front of the Barker Center Café, an unobtrusive sign advertises: “Free Coffee. New Hours at the Barker Center. Monday – Friday 9-10 AM.” These new hours are a cutback: the Center used to host twice-daily coffee frenzies from 9-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.

Dean for the Humanities Diana Sorensen sponsors and provides the free coffee at the Barker Center. “The cost became astronomical,” Dean Sorensen explained in an e-mail.

“I know more faculty who miss the afternoon coffee,” says Barbara J. Akiba, department administrator in the Literature concentration. “Cutting back is always hard.”

Students miss it too. Sam E. Prevatt, a second-year graduate student, is disappointed by the cutbacks. He describes the afternoon coffee hours as a social experience. “After section, we would come down here and linger,” he explains.

Other students are just grateful for free coffee, even with the reduced hours. “It’s better than Annenberg,” says Olga A. Moskvina ’10.

Melin says life is easier with the reduced hours. “In the afternoon, it was pretty hectic,” she explains. “You’re only one person.” She lifts another tank of coffee onto the counter—after fifteen minutes of charity, the first one is already empty.