The Van

Recently, I made a blog post about the history and importance of The Shed at Northwestern University’s BrewBike branch. However, I can’t talk about The Shed without its most important resident: The Van. The BrewBike Van allows the operations team to deliver kegs of cold brew, crates of milk, and all other coffee-shop related goods from our kitchen to our various locations. As head of operations at BrewBike Northwestern, the van has become one of the most important parts of my job at BrewBike, and honestly, my favorite perk of the job also.

My first time in the Van was say the least. It was my first day of training for becoming a member of the operations team, and the whole team was getting shown around all important BrewBike-related spots around campus. How did we get around campus you may ask? The five of us piled into the two-seat 2015 Ford Transit Connect. The four of us that weren’t so lucky as to have called shotgun squatted in the back and sat on milk crates, clinging onto the door handles and front seats for dear life. We survived, but that (chaotic) journey was a great representation of life as head of ops. At the drop of a dime, I or someone else on the ops team had to be ready to leave whatever library/dorm/cafe/class we were in, grab the van keys, and attend to a coffee-related crisis. Usually it was just that our Café Bergson location in Main Library was out of oat milk, but if there’s one thing that BrewBike customers love, it’s their oat milk. Still, even during these frantic milk-runs, I couldn’t wait to get into the van.

In college, especially at a college like Northwestern, you walk or bike everywhere. Very few students have cars, and if they do, they’ll drive it maybe once a week for a grocery run. Getting to drive around campus almost every day is a treat for any college student. I would get to turn on 100.3 FM, give a little honk (or ride) to any friends that I passed along the way, and take 20 or so collective minutes that it took me to drive between places to just...vibe honestly.

Coming back to Evanston for the start of this school year after quarantine was a big adjustment for everyone, but for BrewBike, things were completely different. There are currently no on-campus operations, and any activity that is being done by BrewBike Northwestern specifically is done by a team of students working on marketing our new online products. Still, having the van up and running is incredibly important for any and all operations, as BrewBike still hosts small pop-ups and activations around the Evanston area. When we went to the shed to check in on the van for the first time, we were met with a dead battery. Abby, BrewBike Northwestern’s CEO, and I returned to the shed multiple times over the next week, trying to get it started with a portable battery. Important to note, in the process we were also teaching ourselves how to start a car’s battery. Let’s just was unsuccessful. Thankfully, we were able to call AAA and they successfully get it up and running again, but when we returned the following week to drive the van to get its annual car wash, the battery was dead again. After taking a moment to mourn, we finally accepted that we just needed to get the battery replaced. We called AAA one last time, drove it to an auto repair shop in Evanston, and just this week got a working van again!

It took way longer than any of us would like to admit to get the van up and running, but now that we have it, we’re one step closer to having on-campus operations of BrewBike. It’s hard to live through a months-long pandemic, no one’s afraid to say it, but little things like getting the van up and running again give me hope that one day we can return to serving students coffee in person, together, like BrewBike coffee is meant to be enjoyed.