Febrewary: a friend group’s quest for a banjo


Camille Torrente

On Friday night, a mist of rain floated down as students drank coffee, ate crepes, and listened to live music. The event, called “Fe-brew-ary,” was set up by a group of friends as a fundraiser.

“We’re hoping to buy a banjo for the collective friend group,” said Nathaniel Kirkland, one of the students behind the coffeehouse event.

There was no entrance fee, but students were invited to buy crepes, coffee, or tea. For $3, students could grab a crepe stuffed with fruit, or one inspired by Girl Scout cookies. The coffee selection looked like it could be the menu for a hip downtown coffee shop.

Peter Basolo and Victor Bui at the coffee station

“We have three sources tonight: Ethiopian, Papua New Guinea, and El Salvador,” said Peter Basolo, one of the event’s amateur baristas. “I love coffee. It’s kind of been a family passion of mine. It’s always been something I enjoyed doing.”

The beans were also student-made. When organizing the event with his friends, Kirkland volunteered to roast the coffee.

“We’re talking single-origin, nice African coffee, Asian coffee, American coffee—whatever you want,” Kirkland said. “Where I lived before, there was no place to get really good, fresh coffee, so I would just ship it there and roast it myself.”

A steady stream of students flowed from the audience to the booths, keeping the stands busy. And with the cold night air making their breath visible, there were plenty of people eager to have a hot cup.

“I have much more respect for people who are baristas for a living, even though I’ve been brewing coffee for four or five years now,” said Vi Bui, another barista at the event. “I’ve done it for other parties, but this is pretty intense. A lot more people.”


The rain didn’t keep people away from the performers, either. Students sat on blankets and couches pulled from nearby dorms, willing to let water drip onto their heads.

“The drizzling actually helped keep my papers from flying away,” said Michaela Ellsworth, one of the performers. “And it’s always fun, because Master’s is a great crowd.”

Organizers put tents up to protect the audio equipment, but the event carried on. The string lights glowed, the scent of coffee floated in the air, and the gentle music drifted across the hill.

“I think they did a great job with the set-up and the decoration, and then who they chose to sing. I just thought it was really well-thought-through,” said Jordan Bolde, a senior biology major. “Since it was student led, I think that’s what got such a big reaction and positive response.”

Even if they didn’t make enough to afford a banjo, the coffeehouse brought the campus together that Friday night.

“This whole event just kind of happened,” Kirkland said. “We were chilling at Undergrounds one day and we were like, you know what, we should plan a coffeehouse event for a fundraiser. Get fresh good coffee, get crepes. And it just kind of evolved from there.”