Korouva Milk Bar: What’s in Your Cup?
February 16, 2019
February 16, 2019
Located next to the campus security building on the outskirts of campus, Korouva Milk Bar has remained a mostly hidden gem, enjoyed by a fortunate few. When students walk through the crimson front door, they’re greeted by the soft sounds of music, the smell of coffee roasting, and a barista waiting to take their order. Founded in 1996, Korouva Milk Bar has been supplying our campus with coffee, ambiance, and communal space for nearly 23 years. The coffee bar is run and operated entirely by student volunteers, who get to decide how to decorate, what to serve, and how to run the shop. Zoe Watts ’19, the current head barista and manager of Korouva, says, “You can walk into the building and tell that it’s run by students. It’s nice to have a space where we can do our thing and other students can do their own thing without having to worry about the administration.”
As one of many student clubs on campus, Korouva stands out as both an organization and a destination. Characterized as an alternative space on campus, it’s separate from University life and functions as a meeting place for student organizations as well as a space to hang out and study. In its first few years, Korouva was just a small coffee shop, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the space developed an artistic flair and transformed into a haven for students. The walls and ceiling have been decorated by generations of students, and every cavity and corner of the shop is bursting with something colorful to delight the eye. The history of Korouva is really the history of its patrons, who are encouraged to bring their own artwork and add their unique touch to the space. “The space is really just a big collaboration between alumni, current students, and even perspective students who have left their mark,” says Watts. “Since Korouva was opened in the ’90s, each generation of students has changed the space in some way.” Today, Korouva is covered in a mixture of art, wall hangings, and designs from 23 years of student contributions.
Fans of A Clockwork Orange might recognize the coffee shop’s namesake as an homage to Anthony Burgess’s fictional underground elixir bar; however, the two spaces share few similarities beyond their name. Watts notes that “We have a sort of fringe status, but we’re also a safe space where people can voice their ideas and have open discussions. The space isn’t limited to any specific type of group or individual.”
We have a sort of fringe status, but we’re also a safe space where people can voice their ideas and have open discussions. The space isn’t limited to any specific type of group or individual.
Student involvement is at the heart of the organization. Every two months and on most major holidays, Korouva hosts open mic nights. “At these showcases, students are encouraged to do whatever they want, whether that be music, comedy, dance, or whatever,” says Watts. As a safespace, Korouva strives to support and encourage all students to share their talents and ideas at these events. Every so often, Korouva will also host tile-painting parties, where students can come in and decorate a ceiling tile however they like.
One of the constraints of being a student organization is that the Milk Bar isn’t advertised on campus tours, limiting its exposure to prospective customers. Even so, Korouva is still a staple of Southwestern, offering a unique environment unlike any other on campus. “We’re filling in some spaces that the University doesn’t provide,” says Watts, “There isn’t a hangout space that’s comparable to Korouva. Plus, we’re open earlier and later than the other coffee shops on campus.”
To stay up to date with upcoming events, follow Korouva Milk Bar on Instagram: @korouvamalkbar.
If you want to stop by for a refreshing beverage, their hours are 8:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m. Sunday–Friday.
If you’re interested in getting involved or becoming a student volunteer, contact Zoe Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.