The Lehigh Coffee Club is a new organization on campus with a goal of starting conversations over a cup of coffee. The club’s president, Otto Capps, ‘22, and executive council members discuss how the club got started and what it hopes to accomplish. (Nora Thomson / B&W Staff)

Lehigh Coffee Club creates space for conversations


For Otto Capps, ‘22, his roots with coffee run deep. 

His family owns a coffee farm in Brazil where he spent the first few years of his life. In September 2018, he wanted to figure out a way to manifest his love for coffee on campus, so he founded the Lehigh Coffee Club. 

“I was in the library with some friends and they were civil and mechanical engineers and they were talking about starting a club,” Capps said. “I was going through the business school, and I wasn’t as busy as they were at the time, so I thought I should start a club. What’s something that I really love? And that’s coffee.”

Students sample coffee at an event featuring cold brew from Saxbys, Zekraft, Lit and The Joint. The Lehigh Coffee Club is a new organization on campus with a goal of starting conversations over a cup of coffee. (Nora Thomson/B&W Staff)

Since the club’s inception in 2018, Capps has channeled his love for coffee into the largest club on campus with over 600 members on their mailing list encouraging students to engage in conversations over coffee.  

As Lehigh did not have a coffee-centric club, he thought starting the Lehigh Coffee Club would be a good opportunity. 

Capps said the goal of the club is to bring people together from different sects of campus, allowing students the ability to interact with others who they may not speak with otherwise.

The club frequently partners with other clubs and organizations on campus such as Peer Health Advisors, the Conservation Club and SEAL, which they host events and have tailored conversations with. 

“Our mission really is to stimulate important conversations over a cup of coffee,” Capps said. 

Capps said that coffee is the vehicle through which people can have these conversations. As a social person, he said he enjoys meeting new people, which he is able to do through the club’s events.

Capps shares his organizational duties with co-president Abby Sowa, ‘23, as he has taken a leave of absence from Lehigh this semester to complete a Co-Op. 

Formerly the vice president of the club, Sowa stepped into the role of co-president this semester.

“[As VP], I got to work under Otto, who was the president and founder so I learned a lot,” Sowa said. 

Sowa manages the day-to-day of the Lehigh Coffee Club while Capps manages the big picture operations. 

Like Capps, she said she resonates with the mission of the club — sparking conversations. 

“You always see people having coffee chats as a way to get to know people, so that’s what it’s all about,” Capps said. “I love being the enabler to let people have these conversations and have such a great drink like coffee.”

Members of the Lehigh Coffee Club executive council pose for a photo. The Lehigh Coffee Club is a new organization on campus with a goal of starting conversations over a cup of coffee. (Nora Thomson / B&W Staff)

Erica Ashby, ‘22, Lehigh Coffee Club’s director of corporate outreach, believes that the club is successful in their mission. 

At every event, we are able to provide people with coffee and a place to hang out and chat,” Ashby said. “I personally have met so many people through the Coffee Club.”

Ashby’s role is to build relationships with various roasters and obtain coffee beans and equipment for the club. She said she loves the process that produces a great cup of coffee and took on her role to contribute to Lehigh’s coffee community while also learning about the entirety of the coffee industry. 

Despite the intricacies of the coffee process, there is one thing that is plain and simple: Lehigh Coffee Club welcomes all.

The whole goal of it is to be welcoming to everyone,” Capps said.

The Lehigh Coffee Club offers a coffee kit subscription for purchase. The kit includes three blends of coffee and a Lehigh Coffee Club mug. (Nora Thomson / B&W Staff)

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