Schwitzer Perk changes brands

The Perk in Schwitzer Student Center is now serving drinks from Metropolis Coffee Company, based in Chicago, Ill.. While the other two Perks are still affiliated with Starbucks, the partnership with Metropolis has allowed for new items to be added to the menu at the Schwitzer Perk, such as cold brew coffee and fruit smoothies. Photo by Noah Crenshaw
The Perk in Schwitzer Student Center is now serving drinks from Metropolis Coffee Company, based in Chicago, Ill.. While the other two Perks are still affiliated with Starbucks, the partnership with Metropolis has allowed for new items to be added to the menu at the Schwitzer Perk, such as cold brew coffee and fruit smoothies. Photo by Noah Crenshaw

Those who head to the Perk every day for their daily caffeine fix will have, most likely, noticed that it no longer serves Starbucks coffee. While the Perk II and III still serve Starbucks drinks, the Perk I now serves coffee, along with various other drinks, from Metropolis Coffee Company.

Metropolis is based in Chicago and, according to President of Quest Food Management Services Nick Saccaro, because of the close proximity the coffee beans are much more fresh than those that the Perk received from Starbucks.

“We’re ordering it [coffee beans] on Wednesday and it’s getting delivered on Friday,” Saccaro said. “It’s a really fresh product. It’s not sitting on the shelves for weeks on end…. It’s a little more of a coffee shop experience in terms of how we have to make the drinks. It’s not as automated as it was before. It requires a little more of a true barista approach to making the coffee.”

Lisa Rucker-Smith, a barista for the second shift at the Perks, said she enjoys freedom and opportunity for experimentation that the new coffee offers her.

“Starbucks has a specific [way of] how you have to make it [coffee]. They don’t want you to alter it [the recipe],” Rucker-Smith said. “Over there [Perk I] we can play around a little bit. I can say, ‘Hmm, let’s infuse these flavors.’ The chocolate strawberry frappe is my new flavor over there right now. So I’m having fun with that.”

Dispite the Perk having a new cold-brew coffee machine, graduate student studying teaching English to speakers of other languages Sigi Ferguson said that she is not a fan of Metropolis’ cold-brew coffee.

“That iced coffee machine that they [Perk I] have, I think it’s a nice idea, but I haven’t really seen the execution follow through with that,” Ferguson said. “I’ve heard a lot of complaints that it’s watered down… I literally just had a sip of that iced coffee and I could not have thought of anything worse. If I’m being honest. I’m not the biggest fan of iced coffee to begin with, but I did like the Starbucks iced coffee a little bit better. I don’t know it’s just because I’m used to how they’ve been doing it for the past year or it’s the [new] machine that they have.”

Although Ferguson does not like the new iced coffee from Metropolis, she said she does think that the new caramel frappuccinos taste better and that she enjoys the addition of fruit smoothies to the menu.

Saccaro said that fruit smoothies have been some of Metropolis’ best-selling products so far. He also said that the addition of smoothies was one of the several reasons that the Indianapolis Student Government decided to move ahead with making the switch to Metropolis.

“What we heard from student government was they felt like because it wasn’t a full Starbucks experience…that it was limited in the offerings,” Saccaro said. “With those ‘Proudly Brew’ programs there’s only certain beverages you can sell. There’s beverages you can’t sell. You’re limited with what seasonal promotions you can and can’t offer, and the prices are also dictated in terms of what you charge.”

From a monetary standpoint, the switch from Starbucks to Metropolis is, at minimum, a cost-neutral move for the consumers and the University of Indianapolis, according to Saccaro.

He said that UIndy plans to keep the Starbucks options available at Perk II and III for those who prefer the Seattle-based chain over the new option.

“We’ll go whatever direction the university asks us to go,” Saccaro said. “We don’t really have a preference one way or the other. So we’ll see what the student feedback is, what the faculty and staff feedback is…. We’re pretty impartial, so we don’t have any plans to do it [phase out Starbucks on campus] or not do it at this time.”