Since Brigham Young University now sells the real-deal upper of Coca-Cola, you’d think that change would be a downer for an entrepreneur who built a business around delivering juiced-up sodas to caffeine-starved students.
But it’s not. Students on the Provo campus, at least so far, seem to crave the convenience as much as the caffeine.
Last March, Wesley Monahan — a 27-year-old music major at the LDS Church-owned school — launched “Caffeine Corner,” a delivery service to bring caffeinated drinks to students, and some staff members.
It was an immediate hit. During a normal day, Monahan and a few friends averaged 15 orders a day just in March and then April. During finals week, that number jumped to 10 orders an hour.
Caffeinated soft drinks had been banned for sale at BYU since the 1950s, perhaps in a tacit surrender to a common misperception that the Mormon faith’s 19th-century “Word of Wisdom” prohibited the stimulant.
Actually, the revelation in the faith’s Doctrine & Covenants Section 89 prohibits “hot drinks“ — which top LDS leaders have defined as coffee and tea — along with alcohol and tobacco. In 2012, church officials publicly reaffirmed that the so-called health code does not bar caffeine.
Last week, BYU Dining Services announced it would carry caffeinated Coca-Cola products. Surely, this development would doom Monahan’s moneymaking model.
Nope, at least for now.
After closing through the summer, when the numbers of students at BYU typically plummets, Caffeine Corner reopened with the beginning of the fall semester, and Monahan says he has not yet seen any loss of business due to the campus caffeine offerings.
“This is only our second day back after the announcement, but so far it hasn’t negatively affected us,” he said Monday. “We’re still getting the same numbers of orders for Coke and Diet Coke.”
The delivery cost typically is $2 (inclusive) for a 16.9-ounce bottle and $3 for a can of such energy drinks as Monster or Red Bull.
Monahan also points out that BYU’s sales policy change applies only to Coca-Cola products. And while caffeinated Coke has amounted to 30 percent of Caffeine Corner’s business, it is not at the top of Monahan’s demand list.
“Dr Pepper accounts for 38 percent of our deliveries, and BYU [Dining] isn’t offering that,” he said, adding that highly caffeinated energy drinks — still off-limits for sale on campus — are also big sellers.
“For now, at least, the convenience of deliveries to [student locations] on campus seems to be steady,” Monahan said.
So Caffeine Corner will keep bringing that pepped-up pop unless or until sales severely drop.