Meet Sara: The one who keeps campus caffeinated

Every DMACC student knows that Cafe X serves coffee, but who can students give thanks to? Sarah Volkman, that is who.

Sara has been working with Cafe Diem for 12 years and has been an owner since 2014. She is the proud owner of Cafe X and Campus Grounds, the two cafes on campus, as well as Cafe Diem across the street from DMACC, and the location in Ames.

She began working at Cafe Diem while going to Iowa State. From there, she began working as a mechanical tech, designing and testing machinery for a year and a half until she realized that it wasn’t making her happy.

Sara described it as “soul-crushing,” explaining that she loved to work with people; out of her eight-hour shift, she would only interact with a person for about ten minutes. Because of this, she decided to change her career, and become an entrepreneur.

She commented that one of the biggest challenges — something very crucial to her — in opening up a new location, was finding good employees. “Good applicants that share our customer service,” she says: “finding that bubbly personality: someone who is a people-person, and of course, hard-working.”

Opening up a cafe is certainly not an easy task, but keeping it running also has its challenges. Sara shared that her biggest challenge in running a cafe is “the unknown.” She went on to explain that during winter break, an espresso machine, as well as two refrigerators, were lost and had to be replaced. Not knowing what is going to happen can be scary, but it hasn’t stopped her yet.

She said the best thing about working at a college campus is, “they [the students] keep me young.” She also said that the “small-town community feel” is  something that she very much enjoys, and building community is one of her favorite things.

A downside is that “many college students don’t know who we are.” Sara says that many times, college students will make assumptions about the cafe, for example, they believe that things are more expensive  — when in reality, Cafe X prices are lower than some big corporate competitors.

As for the future, she plans to open another location at the Urban Campus, as well as offer a mobile ordering app.

She says that as a business, following trends is very important, and this app will be something great for Cafe X. Working together with a young company, Sara is working on continuously building this app to make sure it is ready to go.

Something that college students can enjoy now are the brand new breakfast burritos, filled with egg, cheese, hashbrowns, and breakfast sausage.

“People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” That is the work philosophy that has helped Sara became as successful as she has been in her career.

So the next time you need some coffee after pulling an all-nighter, or are hungry for lunch, make sure to stop by Cafe X, enjoy some coffee, and don’t forget to say “hi” to Sara.


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