December 3, 2012

Cool Beans, Brew: The History of Coffee Club

By Mikaela Ruef

Of all the great experiences I’ve had in my 4 years on the Stanford Women’s Basketball team, I’d have to say 87% of the things I remember from road trips are Coffee Club trips. Like our first trip to Utah when we walked 30 minutes to a Starbucks in a grocery store because we didn’t know there was a coffee shop right across the street in the opposite direction. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll start where all good histories start, at the beginning.

It all began on my very first trip to Seattle, Washington. Our strength and conditioning coach at the time, Devan, was an avid coffee drinker and so was my adopted sister, Sarah Boothe. I was only a wee little freshman just discovering the countless joys coffee can bring to an otherwise uninspired day. Since we were staying right down the street from Pike’s Market, Devan suggested we visit the first ever Starbucks, and check out the shops in the morning before breakfast. It was the coolest thing walking through the market at 8 in the morning. We walked past a beautiful Roger Federer banner that was hanging from the roof of Nike Town, rubbed the pig statue for good luck at the entrance of the market, smelled the glorious scent of fresh donut holes, passed about 12 Starbucks, then finally arrived at the original Starbucks. We got our morning cup-a-joe then explored. After that trip it was decided, we would get up early every morning to walk to a coffee shop outside of the hotel so we could explore which ever city we were visiting and enjoy a cup of heaven on our adventure.

The Coffee Club didn’t actually get the name “Coffee Club” until my sophomore year. I know you’re thinking that Coffee Club isn’t even that clever of a name, but before my sophomore year the 3 of us were just a nameless group wandering the streets, we were offish, but we had no name. My memory may be a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure our group got the name after Tara called us the Coffee Club. I think it was after the Utah fiasco, when we showed up 20 minutes late to breakfast because we hiked 3 miles to find a coffee shop outside of the hotel, and misjudged how long it would take us to get back. The only rule in coffee club is that you have to go to a place outside the hotel because the point of coffee club is to wander through the streets of the town we’re visiting. Anyway, Tara wasn’t super thrilled that we were so late to breakfast and afterward she was talking to me about it. All I remember from that talk was, “… and no more of this Coffee Club….” and I remember thinking, what a BRILLIANT name for our group! Luckily both Boothe and I played good in the Utah game, so Tara took back her earlier decree of “no more Coffee Club”, and the name stuck.

Devan, Boothe, and I desperately wanted to expand our group so more teammates could relish in the wonderful experiences we were having on the daily. Boothe and I were also concerned about getting freshies to join so they could carry on the tradish after we left, but everyone was reluctant to get up early in the morning, sleep trumped freshly brewed goodness in their minds. We thought we had a new member when Toni joined the team, cuz she appreciates a good cup of coffee when she tastes it, but sadly the one thing Toni appreciates more than a good cup of coffee is an extra hour of sleep, and so she was a no-go. Our search continued until about halfway through my sophomore year when Sara James (aka Sejjie Wedgie) bravely elected to forgo the extra hour of sleep and take a dip in the pond. Sej got up early one morning and joined us on one of our fun filled trip. It only took one trip and she was hooked, ever since she’s been an integral part of the Club.

Then next year, Devan, one of the founders of Coffee Club and token chaperone/ bodyguard was no longer with the team, and we weren’t really quite sure how Coffee Club could go on with out him. That is when Aaron Juarez, SID extraordinaire stepped up in a big way. Aaron doesn’t even drink coffee but he knew how important Coffee Club was to Boothe, Sej, and me so he promised he would take Devan’s spot as bodyguard even though it meant getting up early every morning. Aaron has gone above and beyond his duties, he not only scares off shady peeps walking down the streets, he even scouts out coffee shops the night before so he knows where we’re going the next morning.

Boothe, too, has now moved on to bigger and better things, and I am the sole founder of the Coffee Club remaining at Stanford. One day I will also move on, but my hope is that as people move on, the Coffee Club endures. Currently, the Coffee Club is flourishing, having added a new member, Kurtis Rayfield, caffeine enthusiast. We are constantly trying to recruit new underclassmen to join, and if ever they opt to make the sacrifice and join us for a trip or two, I’m sure they will fall in love with the Coffee Club and never leave, just as every past and current member did on their first trip.


  1. The Coffee Club--what a great tradition! But it doesn't look very durable. Even its name being another Tara-ism hasn't made its membership soar.

    I know Amy is a coffee drinker, but she may also be a sleeper-inner.

    Good luck to present and future CC members. And thanks for sharing this look behind the scenes, Mikaela.

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