UA Rise has reopened in the new building.
BY JAMES UNDERWOOD, ’23. GRAPHIC BY MEGAN MCKINNEY, ’22. PHOTO BY BELLA VANMETER, ’22.
It’s noon on Monday, and UA Rise is abuzz. The student baristas are hard at work taking orders and making drinks. Outside, a short line of students waits eagerly for a midday caffeine boost. Cards swipe and machines whir.
UA Rise is the high school coffee shop located at the north end of Golden Bear Boulevard. The shop is run by a staff of 10 student baristas, supported by English teacher Karen D’Eramo. The students’ responsibilities deal with every aspect of the store: they take orders, process payments and make coffee. The students can also create new drinks and manage running the shop.
The students involved in UA Rise can have different roles and responsibilities.
“It’s individualized for students’ needs,” D’Eramo said. “They all do different things, but they all work together and help each other.”
Students can get involved by signing up for the yearlong class and talking with D’Eramo.
“You can take it as many times as you want during your time here, usually sophomore through senior year,” she said.
The UA Rise baristas have attracted a loyal customer base, including senior Eva Van Benschoten.
“UA Rise is pretty fire,” she said. “[I go] probably two, three times a week. It really depends how much homework I have at lunch.”
For UA Rise regulars like Van Benschoten, the store offers a frequent buyer card which allows customers to get a discount after five purchases and a free drink after 10.
“I’m currently one punch away from getting a dollar off,” Van Benschoten said.
Junior Gavin Zembler-Stiffler is another frequent customer at UA Rise.
“I love it. I go every other day,” he said. “I’ve filled out many a punch card, both my freshman year and now this year.”
The store was founded in April 2009 and was in part supported by donations from community groups and local businesses like Huffman’s Market and Cameron Mitchell.
“Members of the community helped us by donating money so we could build it,” D’Eramo said.
Still, the store today is financially independent from the school or other groups.
“We’re fully self-funded by the money we make by selling coffee,” D’Eramo said. “That pays for all of our supplies.”
The move to the new high school presented new challenges for UA Rise.
“It was a lot, just like [for] everybody,” D’Eramo said. “It was a lot of restructuring, packing, figuring out what we were taking and what we were not taking.”
Ultimately, the move came as an upgrade for the store. When it was founded in the old building, UA Rise occupied what was formerly a concession stand. In the new building, the store has a dedicated space with a classroom behind it in which the student baristas can meet and collaborate.
Another change this year is in the size of drinks offered.
“Since UA food services is offering free lunch, we have to follow more specific guidelines by the state,” D’Eramo said. As such, the store is not selling 16 ounce drinks as it had in the past.
“Those are rules not put in place by us,” D’Eramo said. “So that has been our biggest challenge.”
With the new building, UA Rise has returned to its full menu for the 2021-22 school year. The store accepts cash, card and mobile payment services like Apple Pay. According to D’Eramo, the store’s most popular drink is frozen hot chocolate, which Zember-Stiffler said was his favorite.
“It’s nice: very sweet, a lot of sugar to start my math class that’s next period,” he said.