By Caleb Parke
Published October 04, 2018
There’s nothing college students like more than free stuff and a lot of caffeine, right?
Shiru Cafe, a Japanese-owned coffee shop on Brown University’s campus, is cashing in on just that.
No college ID? No cup of coffee.
Students hand over their personal information – name, phone number, email address, concentration in school, as well as professional interests – via an app.
In exchange, students open themselves up to receiving information from corporate sponsors who pay the cafe to reach its clientele through advertising on the cups, ordering pages, digital ads in the store, and even baristas.
“Our mission is to provide a place for these connections with leading local and global companies and help university students bridge the gap between their university experience and their professional career," Keith Maher, Shiru's general manager in the U.S., told Fox News.
Sarah Ferris, the cafe's assistant manager in Providence, said she hasn’t encountered a single student who was hesitant to give up their personal data.
“They're very good about keeping everyone's information close,” Ferris said. “They don't sell it, they don't do anything of that sort.”
Nina Wolff Landau, a junior at Brown, said most of the information she provided was already on Google or LinkedIn.
"Maybe I should have been more apprehensive, but everyone has your information at this point anyway," Landau told Rhode Island Public Radio. "To give out my name and email and what I study does not seem so risky to me."
Maher said the cafe does not give out a student’s specific information, but rather provides aggregate data such as student majors and expected graduation years.
"Through face-to-face meet-ups in the cafe, students are then able to provide their own information to company recruiters and executives if they choose to do so," Maher added.
Shiru offers drip, decaf, espresso, cold brew, and nitro coffee, as well as four types of tea, six types of lattes, and orange juice. Drinks to-go cost money as well as pastries for sale. University faculty and staff can also buy drinks in-store or to-go for $1. Customers off the street are turned away.
Shiru, which means “to know” in Japanese, was first founded in Kyoto, Japan in 2013. The Providence, Rhode Island location at Brown is the first location in the United States, owned by Enrission America Inc., fittingly just 50 feet from Brown’s CareerLAB, where students get career advice and resources.
But before it even opened earlier this year, the unique cafe was met with calls for boycotts because of possible corporate sponsors like JP Morgan, as used in Japan.
However, the Brown location doesn’t have any sponsors yet, according to NPR.
According to the website, 76 percent of the Brown students are registered with Shiru, and they have an average of 600 orders each day. More than 2,500 students utilize Shiru’s services each day, and each location employs 15 students, an internship opportunity. The international locations typically have three Japanese staff members. Shiru provides assistance to international sponsors covering hotel and transportation fees to the store location so businesses can pitch to students in person.
Shiru’s logo is made entirely of circles and represents cultural exchange or connections of students and companies, which also alludes to fate or destiny.
The Japanese company hopes to expand to other campuses like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.