The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Sam Steel Café: serving students for over a decade

Student+workers+at+Sam+Steel+Caf%C3%A9+on+Sept.+26%2C+2023.+From+left+to+right%3A+Jimena+Loya%2C+Brooke+Biel%2C+and+Mikayla+Donart.
Carlos Herrera
Student workers at Sam Steel Café on Sept. 26, 2023. From left to right: Jimena Loya, Brooke Biel, and Mikayla Donart.

Founded in 2012, New Mexico State University’s Sam Steel Café has been serving up coffee, tea, and snacks in Gerald Thomas Hall for over a decade. The café is supervised by alumnus Dr. Sergio Martinez-Monteagudo, but the day-to-day operations are entirely overseen by students. Every order is entirely customizable, as the café offers a variety of different coffee types, from black coffee to the most complex of cappuccinos.  

The Sam Steel name comes from Samuel Steel, a student at NMSU in 1893, who was slated to be NMSU’s first ever graduate at the age of 17 but was sadly murdered before he could receive his degree. Since then, New Mexico State has honored his legacy in a variety of ways — chief of which is the Sam Steel Society, the alumni organization for the College of ACES, of which the café is an affiliate.  

Brooke Biel, a senior and one of the managers at the café, spoke about her experience working at the café over the past two years.  

“I started working here because the last manager really needed help,” Biel said. “But I’ve been having so much fun here that I wanted to move up and just keep going.” 

The student managers are also entirely responsible for the hiring process and maintenance of the café’s supplies and materials, and anything else other than some highly administrative responsibilities. This alteration in the management structure is very recent, having only taken effect this current semester. 

Dr. Martinez-Monteagudo, the supervisor for Sam Steel Café, spoke about his hands-off approach within the organization. 

“That is part of the deal…and that’s my philosophy,” Martinez-Monteagudo said. “If you’re going to run it, you run it.” 

Jimena Loya, one of the only freshman employees, said she enjoys being a part of the team and both the patrons and her coworkers are welcoming. 

Mariah Leonard, a senior employee, discussed the benefits that come with working in a student-run organization. 

“I really liked the environment here and having a really flexible schedule with my classes,” Leonard said.  

Biel said that when they are hiring at the beginning of the semester, she asks everyone’s school schedules so she can plan shifts accordingly.   

One of the most popular and unique items on the menu is the “Sam Steel Special”, an iced honey latte with cold foam, which, according to the staff, is a blend of smooth, sweet flavors and rich coffee.  

Dr. Martinez-Monteagudo is also working in tandem with his research to soon introduce made-in-house ice cream to the menu offerings by improving the product’s quality and mitigating the waste. 

“I’m a big ice cream guy,” he said. “I do research with ice cream…so when I took over then, my first objective was to come up with a good product.” 

Another item is the “senator special”, as coined by Kolby Graham Taylor, who is known as “Sam Steel’s best customer”. The drink is often recommended to those who are indecisive.  

“The senator special wasn’t really an actual special,” Taylor said. “Really, it’s just whatever I’m feeling for this semester.”  

Currently, that drink is a chocolate breve with chocolate drizzle in the cup, which is another cold, sweet, and creamy option available at the café. 

“Come visit us…it’s all student-run, you know, only the students are benefitting from it,” Biel said. “I would love to get that out there.”

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About the Contributors
Kaden Martinez, Staff Writer
Kaden Martinez is entering his first year at The Round Up as both a staff and a sports writing intern. This is his first time writing for a local publication (or any publication for that matter!). He is also entering his first year as a freshman majoring in Cybersecurity with a minor in Computer Engineering. Since his dad is in the military, he has moved all around New Mexico, having lived in Albuquerque, Springer, Maxwell, and finally Rio Rancho where he graduated. He is the oldest of three siblings. Kaden has always enjoyed writing, whether it was school related or as a hobby. He decided to become a member of The Round Up both to broaden his horizons and step out of his comfort zone by trying something new. Some of his interests include exercising, playing sports, video games, TV shows, and movies.
Carlos Herrera, Multimedia Specialist
Carlos Herrera is entering his second year at The Round Up as a Multimedia Specialist. He is currently a senior in his undergraduate degree in Information Communication Technology. Carlos is looking forward to this year in expanding his love for graphic design and perfecting his photography while capturing "those big Aggie moments". He enjoys being active in everything he does, and also enjoys spending time with those important to him in his downtime.

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