Evan Mangifesta ‘27 orders an iced coffee April 9 at Lucy's Cafe in the basement of Linderman Library. Mangifesta enjoys buying coffee at Lucy's as well as other eateries on campus! (Sarah Zoller/B&W Staff)

Caffeine sales rise at on-campus dining locations


Lehigh saw a 33% increase in caffeine beverage sales across retail dining locations compared to this time last year, according to retail operations’ Micros register system. Just this March, retail dining sold 1,628 brewed coffees. In 2023, only 1,221 were sold in March. 

Jason Lenig, director of retail operations, oversees retail locations at Lehigh, including employee training and reporting sales. He said he works to provide the best possible experience for customers. 

Lenig said Starbucks, Pete’s Coffee and Lucy’s Cafe are responsible for the majority of coffee sales on campus. 

He also said employees and cashiers become familiar with customers’ purchasing habits and can then better predict daily caffeine consumption. 

This employee-based input system gives Dining and Operations a better idea of their inventory turnover, especially popularity upticks. 

Lenig said after employee input, they compare data with register reports to best understand what to buy for the next purchasing period. 

For example, Lening said Dining and Operations integrates data from every new flavor and drink Starbucks releases to track trends and purchasing habits. 

“Even 10 years ago, you would go into a coffee shop and order a regular brewed cup of coffee, but now, more than 65% of drinks consumed are iced, flavored or contain milk,” Lenig said.  “So this industry continues to become more complicated, but it is evolving, which is a good thing.” 

Tammy Matthews, a Lucy’s Cafe worker, has worked at Lehigh for five years and observed this increase in caffeine intake firsthand. 

“If I had to assume, midterms increase student consumption greatly, as they need that extra boost for exams,” Matthews said. “I see a large number of students coming back for a second cup during exam season, this year especially.” 

Matthews said Lucy’s top sellers are vanilla lattes, caramel macchiatos and chai lattes with a shot of espresso. 

The menu at Lucy’s Cafe features brewed and iced coffee, lattes, mochas and teas, offering a variety of caffeinated and non-coffee products.

Kyla Schilling, ‘27, said she notices herself drinking more coffee when she has to study late at night. Compared to when she was in high school, she said she needs more energy to get through her busy schedule. 

“I’ve been drinking coffee for the past three years, but I feel like I need way more now, due to the stress of exams and homework every day,” Schilling said. “There is a strong culture of drinking more caffeine here, and I think this has definitely created this increase across campus.” 

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