The new dorm coffee shop opened over the Homecoming weekend, serving up biscotti and its own house blend of espresso.
After having to push off its opening date several times, Penny’s opened for business in the New Dorm on Friday, Sept. 21. The coffee shop was met with enthusiasm from several students who visited and drank coffee in the open lobby space.
“We’re just really excited to try things out, and we’re taking a lot of suggestions,” said Emily Barnum ‘18, Penny’s manager. “We want to make sure people get exactly what they want.”
One of the things Penny’s is trying out is their own house blend of espresso. Barnum explained that at the beginning of each shift, employees will pull multiple shots to find the sweet spot between a coarser espresso taste, which happens when the water passes through the grounds quickly, and a more sour taste, when the water passes through for a longer time.
“Every single time we open, our baristas check the espresso grinders, sample, and taste to make sure they hit the sweet spot,” Barnum said. “We have to do that every shift because environment and temperature changes the flavor, so we re-calibrate every time. It’s kind of fun, it’s like a science and an art.”
Student Manager sophomore Caroline Hennekes said that she was impressed by the quality of the coffee.
“I’m not an avid coffee drinker, and can’t tell the difference between other types coffee, but this is very good coffee, and I can tell the difference. And that’s very refreshing to find on campus,” Hennekes said.
Penny Arnn, for whom the coffee shop is named, visited Saturday and expressed her joy at the shop’s opening.
“I saw it during construction, and visited on the Saturday of Homecoming just as Emily was closing. She gave me a cup of green tea and it was only later that I realized I had forgotten to pay for it,” Arnn said in an email.
Often praised for her hospitality, Arnn said she was “delighted” to be the namesake of the newest study spot.
“I was asked early in the process if I would be willing to have the name considered among the options to be voted on,” Arnn said. “That was such a compliment. It’s pretty fun to see my name on a sticker on every cup lid!”
Barnum explained that despite some difficulties in starting up the shop, student workers have remained positive.
“There have been hitches the entire time, but we just roll with the punches, problem solve, be creative and it’s good,” Barnum said.
Most importantly, however, Penny’s has expressed a desire to replicate the hospitality Penny Arnn is known for by building community, and Hennekes said the location and operating hours of Penny’s are a part of that goal.
“On Sunday afternoons, or Saturday mornings on campus where sometimes there isn’t a place to go, or A.J.’s isn’t open, and you want to have a quiet study spot or a place to do devotions, we want to be that space,” Hennekes said.
Arnn said she is proud of the community Hillsdale has built already.
“We support one another and we care for one another. If we can share all that with guests to campus we extend our community beyond Hillsdale.”
She added that she hopes the coffee shop encourages students to take a moment to slow down.
“We all lead busy and fast-moving lives,” Arnn said. “I hope the coffee shop will add another opportunity on campus for slowing down that busyness just a little bit and promote friendly conversations and companionship.”
Michael Lucchese ’18, who visited opening day, said he was “very impressed” with Penny’s.
“I think this is an excellent new institution on our campus,” Lucchese said. “Top-notch drinks served by top-notch girls. I’m sure that Penny’s is going to make its namesake very proud.”