Words by Tom Haskell
The daily cup of coffee is a cultural institution in many parts of Australia — our university included. For many students, the most widely accepted drug of them all, caffeine, is a necessity to prepare themselves for a long day of studying, or, more likely, procrastinating.
Rarely is it that we consider the community that can be created over something as simple as a cup of coffee, or, more specifically, where you get your morning java. However, many students (and staff) in the past week have been strongly considering just what their local coffee shop means to them.
St. Raphael’s Coffee Cart has been the local coffee joint for many students since it first opened in October 2015. If you were to walk into Ligertwood on any given day, it is very likely that you would see owner Frankie making coffees and having a chat with his customers.
“The relationships we create with our customers for me is paramount. We are all about creating a home away from home type business for our loyal students and academics; to feel as though they are away from their normal routine. We would like to say we treat everyone as though they are family, to make them feel loved. We want them to leave us better off then when they walked in. I think we are often more like counselors or a best friend then baristas.”
Last week, a student posted to Overheard claiming that the St. Raphael’s Coffee Cart was in danger of being removed from campus. “It is absolutely in the best interests of all students that he stay here. Take a stand. Sign his petition”.
This call to arms attracted a huge response from students across different faculties. Within the last week, around 780 concerned students and staff (and counting) have signed a petition calling for the local coffee cart to remain on campus.
For a degree as innately competitive as Law, the response from the larger law student body has been one of solidarity, not competition. In a letter to Campus Central, Adelaide University Law Student Society President, James D’Alessandro, outlined why this coffee cart is so important for the school as a whole.
“…it is important that the potential relationships with future colleagues is nurtured during our studies so that the solidarity of the profession is maintained…I note law students form the group of students with the highest rates of depression and mental health issues at a tertiary level. The stress of the job market and the competitiveness among students during their time at University are both contributing factors, and so it is important that there exist a source of community and solidarity for law students during their time at University. I have no doubt that Frankie and his small business, St Raphael’s provide this important source of community.”
While St. Raphael is primarily a law school institution of good coffee, the small business enjoys a patronage from engineering and arts students as well. Frankie has told On Dit that it isn’t an usual sight to see an engineering student enjoying one of his coffees in Ligertwood, further fostering a inter-faculty community.
“For us it’s not that we believe our business is more important than any other in the university. Rather, that we would like to believe we stand as a symbol of belief, hope, and guidance for others to take a risk and open something or create something that they love/believe in.”