Citing Environmental Concerns, Motley Bans Milk; Coffee; Tea; Sugar


Nina Howe-Goldstein ’25
Triple-Platinum Certified Hater

In an unexpected move that shocked students and sent waves across the Claremont Colleges, management for the Motley announced today that the iconic cafe would be phasing out staple drinks like coffee and tea, as well as all milks and sweeteners, due to their adverse environmental impact.

Founded in 1974, the student-run coffee shop quickly became a popular gathering point at Scripps, and is often cited by alumni as a favorite campus dining spot. The cafe moved first from Balch Hall to the basement of Malott Dining Commons, before ending up in Seal Court in 2000. After closing for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the space reopened to great fanfare in April of 2022.

Sustainability and activism have long been central to the Motley’s mission, said a source close to the decision-making process. In a statement to The Scripps Voice, the coffeeshop management said that they intend to “provide a center for intersectional feminist dialogues, highlight local vendors and sustainable global supply chains, and support on-campus organizations through community events and sponsorships.” (The word “intersectional” was added in 1988 when, in a particularly fruitful smoke sesh at Pitzer, leadership saw in a vision that Professor Kimberle Crenshaw at UChicago was about to develop a complex legal theory to describe the gendered and racial experiences of Black women, and that they should really hop on that bandwagon vis-a-vis their HWC student-run coffeeshop.)

Citing this mission, the Motley announced on Friday in a social media post that they would soon be phasing out coffee, tea, sweeteners, and all milks and milk substitutes.

The conversation about the removals began in early 2003, said another source, when the Motley’s 34-person Environmental Justice Panel (an offshoot of the Social Justice Subcommittee, itself a branch of the Megacorporation Collaborations Committee) voted to recommend that an exploratory committee be formed to investigate a possible transition away from cow milk.

A series of investigations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had revealed the sheer number of products that the Motley would have to eliminate in order to meet its ethical and sustainability goals. Leaked documents verified by the Scripps Voice’s in-house forensics team reveal that management had been aware of the concerns for years, but had continued with their (frankly environmentally destructive) current menu for many years “for shits n’ gigs.”

Coffee, tea, and sugar are all linked to exploitative and destructive worldwide colonial systems, noted a 2019 investigation. Cow milk produces substantial amounts of methane emissions, and almond milk production uses an estimated seventeen times more water per liter than cow milk, said a 2008 report by the Environmental Analysis department (which drowned itself en masse in Seal Court the next year to protest the living conditions of the koi fish).

“And let’s be real here, oat milk tastes like you’re listening to someone complain about all the biphobia she experienced in her academic dishonesty hearing,” said a Motley barista (who asked to remain anonymous). “We couldn’t serve oat milk as our only beverage. I would rather stab myself in the eye with a steamer.”

The announcement was heralded as a sign of progress by many Motley customers.

“I support them,” said Watheryn Kang HM ’23. “… so long as they ban water too, for environmental reasons.”

Llla Eehavi ’24 said that the change will support students with dietary restrictions, but expressed concern that it was discriminatory towards marginalized sexualities.

“As a GERD [Chronic Acid Reflux] haver, I appreciate the Motley’s efforts to remove ingredients that will trigger acid reflux — including coffee, dairy, sugar, anything with flavor, anything that sparks joy, caffeine, and oat milk,” Eehavi said in an interview in Seal Court. “But the removal of tea is a deliberate attack on all lesbians at the Claremont Colleges, as I am a lesbian and I like tea, and I am pretty sure my lesbian experience is the only one.”

“Thank God they aren’t getting rid of lavender syrup,” Eehavi said, walking away, as-of-yet blissfully unaware of the contents of Monin syrup.

But Derin Evidson ’25, who says she applied to be a Motley barista in the fall and was rejected, harshly criticized the move in an unsolicited, profanity-laden email to the Scripps Voice editorial board.

“The Motley has a track record of being the best/worst example of modern day activism I’ve seen in years,” Evidson said. “I have no doubt that if they could bottle up the essence of ‘divine feminine’ they would sell it for $14.75 for a ‘small.’ If they want to make a real point, they should dump all the tea into pHake Lake and declare Scripps an independent nation so we can finally elect a real interim president.”

In the same social media post, the Motley announced that their new menu would debut after spring break. And they encouraged students of marginalized identities (“2SLGBTQIA+, BIPOC, FGLI, water signs, no asians tho <3”) to attend their upcoming networking event hosted by Raytheon Technologies Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultants. “Hope to see you all there!!!” read the caption. Image Source:

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