As the weather gets colder every fall semester, University of Maryland, Baltimore County students traditionally flock to Starbucks for their hot beverage needs. But now there may be another option: From Turkish coffee to Moroccan mint tea, the new Hot Beverage Club looks to expand students’ cultural knowledge through different and diverse drinks.
According to the club’s founder, senior computer science major Nikita Wootten, his idea for the club started his freshman year. He was inspired to start the club per his Russian roots. “Russians are very heavy tea drinkers,” he said. “I go through probably a huge canister of loose leaf tea a month.”
His love for tea prompted him to explore other cultures’ hot beverage habits. “We [the club] try to explore different cultures through their beverages, considering a lot of cultures do hold some level of status to their drinks,” he said.
He found that between his culture’s love for tea and the Bangladeshi tea-heavy background of the club’s Vice President, senior computer science and information systems major Sadia Rahman, they made a great foundation for the club.
“It took about a year for it to go from just group meetings to get recognized as a club,” Wootten said. “[The most difficult part] was setting up the initial infrastructure, but we got a lot of advice from other clubs. The whole idea is for it to be a low-stress, friendly environment. Somewhere to unwind.”
As the club begins to pick up momentum, there are plans to have more hot beverages such as apple cider and Turkish coffee at events. Wootten and the rest of the Hot Beverage Club team have events planned in collaboration with multiple student organizations on campus. “The collaborations that other clubs have come up with have been amazing,” he said. “We are collaborating with ChewMBC, the cooking club, and with the Korean Dance club, as well as the Russian Club.”
Rahman said that she did not expect much after the club’s initial creation. “We didn’t expect to gain all that many members, but I’m so happy that people are interested,” she explained. “At Involvement Fest, we ended up getting over 120 sign-ups. People wanted to come and create their own cultural beverages with us.”
However, Rahman added that newcomers may be surprised that there is little truth in the name of the club. “Although we are called the Hot Beverage Club, every beverage we’ve served so far has been cold,” explained Rahman. “[Our name is] a big, fat lie.”