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Coffee Club, Tea Club Presidents Brew Up Quali-Tea Friendship As Roommates

Despite what you might think, there’s no trouble brewing between the presidents of Penn State’s Coffee Club and Tea Club. In fact, Coffee Club President Mackenna Yount and Tea Club President Will Wilson are roommates, and that’s the tea.

The two met last year when Yount was a freshman and Wilson was a sophomore. Both lived in the Earth House, a North Halls special living option for agriculture majors. Since students on campus were mostly confined to their dorm floors due to pandemic restrictions, Yount and Wilson got to know each other pretty quickly.

“Usually, North Halls is known for not being super social because of suite-style [dorms]. You don’t run into anyone in the halls unless you’re going to class,” Wilson said. “But because we were all stuck on our floors and could really only talk to each other, we met that way.”

Wilson lived across the hall from Yount, but neither started talking to each other until the spring semester. The more they interacted, the sooner they found they had a lot of similar interests, including their love for cooking.

Yount joined the Coffee Club to meet new people and — you might be shocked to hear this — because she loves coffee. She consistently went to club meetings despite them being virtual last year. However, this allowed her to really get to know the outgoing Coffee Club executive board members who encouraged her to run for president this year.

“I can associate coffee with good vibes all around, and the people I met from Coffee Club also [have] very good vibes,” Yount said. “It’s just a good environment to be around and enjoy.”

Although Wilson is the Tea Club president, he actually enjoys drinking coffee but didn’t want to develop a caffeine addiction. He joined the Tea Club in his freshman year and decided to run for president since he thought his personality would be a good fit.

The Coffee Club and Tea Club used to be one organization known as the Tea Institute, but the Coffee Club became its own entity in 2015. Both Wilson and Yount said that although people view coffee and tea similarly, there’s definitely a difference between the two. However, flavor profiling connects the two.

“It’s really interesting, the kind of really specific scents, flavors, and tastes you can get from different roasts,” Wilson said. “Coffee is a bean from one plant from the western side of the world, and tea comes from the far east, deep in the mountains, using the leaf. They’re so different, but people associate them so similarly because they’re both caffeinated hot beverages, both of which can be brewed very, very, very badly.”

Yount said that the Coffee Club’s goal is to make better-tasting, specialty coffee more accessible to Penn State students since it’s so hard to find in downtown State College. Introducing newbies to coffee entirely is a big part of the club’s goal, too.

“With the Coffee Club, we give people a way to access specialty coffee because it’s typically really expensive and hard to find, especially in a college town where mostly the coffee scene is Dunkin’ or Starbucks,” Yount said. “It’s not always accessible, and we want to make it accessible so that people can actually enjoy and learn more about the ‘bean juice.'”

As president, Yount comes up with different topics to discuss at club meetings, some of which include coffee culture and climate change’s effects on the industry. She also coordinates events with other organizations at Penn State to incorporate coffee into campus events.

For the Tea Club, Wilson said that the group spends a lot of time learning about the different Asian cultures and the different ceremonies for each. Gongfu Cha (功夫茶) is the Chinese tea ceremony, Chanoyu is the Japanese tea ceremony, and Darye is the Korean tea ceremony.

That said, Tea Club contains more of a class-like structure with delegated roles throughout the club. Wilson oversees the administration of the club, including things like planning out events and trips, preparing and teaching weekly lectures and Friday night masterclasses. In the past, tea-loving Penn State students have even traveled as far as Taiwan.

Despite the differences, Wilson and Yount get oolong with each other just fine as roommates because they love getting to learn new things about each other’s interests.

“[We share] lots of similar interests, and I like it because we can nerd out about those things even if I’m not fully into tea as he is into tea, and vice versa,” Yount said. “He can still show me tea, and I kind of have a general gist of what’s going on and appreciate it. And [it’s] the same with coffee…It’s just cool because you get to learn new things [from each other], but then feel comfortable around each other, too.”

Editor’s note: Mackenna Yount is a staff writer at Onward State. She was not involved in the production of this post in any way.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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