Starbucks and moose hunts: the ‘perks’ of UMFK life
FORT KENT, Maine — While sipping on a Starbucks caramel macchiato at the Bengal’s Lair on Tuesday, Nov. 29, University of Maine at Fort Kent sophomore Makayla Robinson admitted that she’s always been “more of a Dunkin’ girl.”
Nonetheless, Robinson said she was enjoying the drink, which Starbucks describes as having “freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup … marked with espresso and topped with caramel drizzle for an oh-so-sweet finish.”
“It has an espresso shot in it, so it’s much stronger, but it’s really tasty,” Robinson said of her first Fort Kent Starbucks experience.
Robinson is a nursing student from Garland, who has aspirations of working in trauma or critical care. As with many college students, Robinson said the demands involved with preparing for a better future are sometimes easier to manage with the assistance of a hot, caffeinated beverage.
“I used to not drink coffee but ever since nursing school I’m just like, everyday,” she said.
It wasn’t coffee which drew Robinson to UMFK, but of all things, a moose hunt.
“I went on a moose hunt in Mars Hill when I was in high-school. Everyone was talking up UMFK, so I came up here for one week and fell in love with it,” she said. “Garland is very small, so I like that Fort Kent is small. Everyone is just close.”
UMFK President John Short hopes the new Starbucks will bring the community even closer, by drawing more non-students to the campus.
“Starbucks will allow us to offer to both students and the community something that’s not available locally: a brand, a feeling, a sense of connectedness,” he said on Tuesday, while drinking a venti (large) sized “regular” Starbucks coffee. President Short said he also enjoys the lattes.
“Some say Starbucks is expensive and that ‘it’s just coffee.’ Starbucks is way beyond just coffee — it’s an experience,” he shared.
Robinson cited the price of Starbucks back in the Garland area as a deterrent to purchasing the products in the past, but said she is now able to purchase Starbucks items with her UMFK dining hall meal plan. “I think it’s good that it can go with my meal plan, so that helps a lot,” she said.
As well as bringing the community closer, Short said the availability of Starbucks products on campus will broaden the college experience for UMFK students. “Rural areas don’t have a lot of the amenities. This makes people part of these amenities,” he said.
Sterling Hartin, the Sodexo General Manager at UMFK, said he helped launch a Starbucks line at Thomas College in Waterville two years ago. “It’s done very well,” he said of the Thomas College location. “It brings in a different atmosphere, gives us more product, more variety, and something with a signature that kids are familiar with. They really know the Starbucks brand.”
Hartin said he was pleased with the public’s response when Sodexo, the company which provides food services to UMFK, first announced the addition of the Starbucks line last spring. “It created a lot of buzz, not only on campus but kind of around town,” he said. “We encourage the public to participate (in the Starbucks experience). They are welcome here anytime.”
He explained that Sodexo does not manage a fully licensed Starbucks in the Bengal’s Lair, but serves authentic Starbucks products. Along with coffee and non-coffee drinks, Sodexo sells Starbucks brand biscotti, mints and gums. Sodexo also offers their own bakery line for sale in the Lair.
A Starbucks representative visited the campus and provided two days of training to Sodexo employees, teaching them how to be effectual baristas, which is an Italian word to describe someone who serves coffee.
Hartin said he would like the Starbucks line at UMFK to achieve at least the same level of success as the operation at Thomas College. As of Tuesday, while walking through Cyr hall, Hartin witnessed hopeful signs.
“Every kid I saw had a Starbucks cup in their hand, so that was encouraging.”