Sick of Java’s, Spot, and Starbucks? Junior Deborah Johnston and senior Katie Hurwitz may have a low-key, completely free option for you: their in-suite coffee shop.

C Side Coffee and Tea — aptly named, since the second-floor suite directly faces Riverview C — is the passion project of Johnston and Hurwitz, who have been living together for the past two years. Driven to find a way to meet new people, provide a comfortable and cozy environment on campus, and start creating community in their area, the duo came up with the idea based on their experiences with their friends at UR. 

“Our first year here, one of our friends had a coffee shop in his room in [Susan B. Anthony Hall],” said Hurwitz. “He had a menu outside his door, and it was just a good place to go and spend time with friends. We were reminiscing on this last April, and we decided to do the same thing ourselves.”

Johnston cites her main inspiration for creating this haven as First Village, a coffee shop in her hometown of Ossining, NY. First Village lacks wireless access and has signs on their tables that advocate for their customers to talk to each other. “That embodies what coffee shops were like back then, which was for socializing instead of just for getting work done,” said Johnston. “We want to encourage people to knock on our door and feel like they can come and hang out.”

Walking into C Side is reminiscent of coffee shops that Hurwitz in particular, who has been to over 20 in the Rochester area, frequents — just limited within the confines of a fire safety code-abiding residential housing space. With Cafe Sasso and Java’s being some of her favorites, the influences become clear as you explore the various musical instruments strewn about, as well as the kitschy-cute aesthetics of their throw pillows, rugs, and sofa cover. 

Their recent “grand opening”, which included promotional flyers posted around Riverview, had a small turnout of a couple friends. However, the two have hopes of welcoming more widespread demographics of students to their suite-shop throughout the semester, as well as creating an hours schedule for the shop if turnout increases. In addition, all of their offerings are currently free of charge, with ideas on creating a “give a little, take a little” space for attendees in the works.

“We’re hoping to host further kinds of events, such as holiday parties with baking and cooking, a pasta night, tea and crafts, and jamming and drinks with local River Campus and Eastman musicians,” said Johnston. “We’d like this to become a space where people are welcome to come without a reason or a text message. It’s not a coffee shop where we charge people — it’s a coffee shop that brings people together.”

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