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Coffee as Community

March 21, 2018

Jeff Camp '18 talks about how his passion for coffee has deepened his faith, friendships, and experience at Wheaton.

How has your passion for coffee contributed to your Wheaton experience?

There’s something organic and genuine about the relationships that you find at Wheaton. With coffee, I was able to meet individuals, both inside and outside of Wheaton, that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Some of my best friends are guys that come over to hang out and have coffee. We goof off, tell stories, and share what's going on in our lives. Some of my friends were adamant freshman year saying “Coffee is not something I’ll need, I don’t want it.” But now I have friends who hit me up whenever they are traveling to ask where the best coffee is. So, coffee plugged me into a community at Wheaton.

Usually, in entry-level classes professors ask students to go around and say something interesting about themselves. I think one of the most interesting things about myself is that I compete in coffee competitions. So, usually, the professor has a great reaction to it, and people have questions about it. Hearing those very genuine and sincere questions helped me feel validated and appreciated in my passion for coffee. I was able to reciprocate that validation by inviting people over to have coffee so I could ask them questions about their passions.

How does coffee relate to your faith?

I had a teacher in high school that would always say “ad fontus—to the source” to encourage us to do our own research on things. Coffee started out as one of those things that I could get into. So when I got to Wheaton, I resonated with the idea here that says that our faith is our own and something that we have to take ownership of. Coffee was something that I had already taken ownership of, and it helped me to realize that if my faith was to be my own it has to be something that I put the time into. That makes anything, be it coffee or my faith, so much more worth it.

What’s one story where your passion for coffee has intersected with professors at Wheaton?

When I was a chemistry major, I wanted to do research and my R.A. at the time was a research assistant to one of the chemistry professors on campus, Dr. Lovaasen. He had a V-60 (coffee dripper) in his office and would make his morning cup there. I was getting into coffee roasting at the same time for the company I was working for, and I wanted to take the chemistry I was learning at Wheaton to make the coffee better. So, Dr. Lovaasen helped me understand what happens chemically in the roasting process. That relationship with Dr. Lovaasen not only helped improve my coffee by helped me to see the value in getting to know my professors outside of the classroom. It was just one more example of coffee being and instrument for change in my life both community-wise and craft-wise.