Insights among perks of coffeehouse job

By Erica Sullivan

Abigail Maurer

Photo by Erica Sullivan

Abigail Maurer, a senior agricultural communication major from Bargersville, Ind., loves to converse over coffee at her workplace, Greyhouse Coffee. ​Full-size image (269 KB)

Find out more

When Abigail Maurer isn't busy with research, homework or writing, she may be found working or relaxing at Greyhouse, a coffee shop near campus. She enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and the smell of coffee, and is always willing to work an extra shift.

The senior agricultural communication major from Bargersville, Ind., has learned more from her job than how to pour coffee or prepare food.

"I chose to study agricultural communication because I love food, I love people and I love words," said Maurer. "Those three things meet in such a cool way here."

By "here," Maurer means the coffee shop.

"In school they meet in the classroom, writing papers, interviewing people and taking science classes to understand our food system," she explained. "But here it's really practical. I am making this person (who I don't know) a cup of coffee. It's very personal. It really changed how I approached my major: food affects everything and how we view the world."

Coffee is a good fit for Maurer, since she is so full of energy herself. In fact, that energy and a desire to find answers took her to New York City last summer to study journalism.

She studied writing, video production and photography during an intense, three-week experience.

"I was in class Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 in the morning to as late as 9:30 at night," said Maurer. "Living in New York City was so much fun. I had never been to New York before."

Although Maurer had never been there, during her stay she was immersed in the New York experience.

"My apartment looked over Macy's, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said. "There was always something to do and I was there with a great group of people."

After many long nights, early mornings and dozens of cups of coffee, Maurer said she was ready to come home. But she will never forget her time in New York. Although the program ended, her involvement with it did not.

She was the first agricultural writer the institute had, and because of her hard work and enthusiasm about agriculture the company asked Maurer to freelance for them.

Maurer said her time in New York was priceless, but the flavor of city life didn't inspire her as much as her campus coffee shop.

"Working here has changed my life," Maurer said, pointing at Greyhouse. "It changed how I see food. Food has become a means of creating an experience to enjoy together. It's a way of sharing life with others."

Food is more than just a means of survival, Maurer said, it is the center of social interactions. While she works, she interacts with strangers and watches people commune over coffee. In a way, food is the center of Maurer's world.

"I have always loved really good food," she said. "Just being around beautiful, high-quality food is one of my favorite things in life. I've also made some really neat relationships here," she said.

Maurer handles the daily grind of work and school with a smile. She is driven, but not so single-minded that she can't take time to enjoy her life, too.

"I have learned to not be afraid to say 'no' to things that might keep me from being able to grab coffee with my roommate," said Maurer. "I never want to be so stressed that I can't be with the people I love. My three goals are to love people well, do well in school and do well in work. If it doesn't fall into those three categories, I'll say no."​