Student Run Café Justo Opens at La Salle


Kierra Young, Assistant Editor

At 8 a.m. last Friday, La Salle’s student run Café Justo opened for the first time in the former student store next to the cafeteria.

The project was funded by Dare to Dream and brought to La Salle through the work of students, teachers, and volunteers. For the first day, the project’s student leaders, Brigid Hanley and Lenora Mathis, worked as baristas, but four other students are being trained to work as well.

Café Justo, which will be the source of coffee beans for the café, is a fair trade coffee cooperative based in Chiapas, Mexico, created to address the issues of poverty and immigration from Mexico and the United States.

“The current humanitarian crisis has been caused in part by the inability of poor laborers and farmers in Mexico to make a livable wage for their families, and Café Justo as an organization works to address that root cause,” said Hanley.

In the fall, the café will be expanded to include frozen drinks. The student store, previously located where the café now is, will continue to sell at football games as well as basketball games as it has for past years. Customers can also order store items for payment and pickup in the main office.

“Going into our opening day, I was really nervous and worried that things would go wrong. However, the opening actually went really well! Everyone who came to the café was very supportive, and it made the experience even more enjoyable!” said Mathis.

While the café will only be open on Fridays for the rest of this year, there are plans to expand it to other days of the week next year.

“To finally be selling the coffee to actual people was unbelievable,” Hanley said. “My favorite part was hearing the good things people had to say, like Mr. Swanson and Mr. Kendrick who were impressed with their Americanos.”

The original leaders of the project, Emma Ly and Christian Reyes, from La Salle’s class of 2017, came to the school to watch the café open.

“It feels pretty surreal [to see it in action],” said Emma Ly. “It was originally a student store, and nothing was there, so for the grant we had to write in the supplies we needed. And to see this now bustling with student workers is pretty crazy but pretty rewarding.”

The idea for the café began when Reyes and Ly went on an Arizona immersion trip, visiting Café Justo during the trip.

“We thought that it was a great concept and wanted to establish something like that here at La Salle,” said Ly.

The students made an application for the Dare to Dream grant with the idea that the proceeds would start a scholarship fund for students to attend the immersion. They spent time editing and adding to their application, as well as browsing Pinterest for different recipes and ingredients.

“I don’t even drink coffee, so we had to figure out how much it costs, how much cups cost, and how many cups we needed, in order for us to even break even,” said Ly.

After months of revising and planning, the graduating students eventually passed the project on.

“Emma and I spent days in the library trying to hash the logistics out,” said Reyes. “Planning and trying to figure out the mission and stuff like that. The grinding was definitely the hardest part of it.”

“In the summer we revised a lot,” Ly said. The graduating students gave the project to Hanley and Mathis, who worked with Mr. Day to make the café happen.

Both Ly and Reyes felt that the hard work they put in paid off.

“It’s so awesome to see it happen, because our hard work went to something that was actually tangible,” said Reyes. “It’s amazing to me that we made something and it came to fruition.”

“Do the Dare to Dream grant,” he continued. “If you really are passionate about something, just apply.”

The café will be open again on May 18, the next late start Friday.