Diënne Hoofs and the best kept secret of Maastricht

“This is different”, I said to Laura Barendregt two weeks ago when I interviewed her for the Humans of FASoS, “I usually meet people at Bandito for the interview, discuss their life over a cup of coffee.”

The coronacrisis has had a huge impact on (working) life as we know it. We need to work from home as much as possible, we give lectures and attend tutorials online, meet our colleagues and peers over Skype or Zoom. What makes matters worse is that we don’t get to go to Bandito for a break. Remember their delicious coffees, hot cookies and marvelous soups? And of course: the friendly faces of the Bandito staff. This shortage of Bandito in our lives calls for an interview with one of Bandito’s owners: Diënne Hoofs.

Diënne shares with me how she and Jeroen started the company (this story is also available on their Instagram account). How they were inspired by the very weak coffee served at an all-vegan dinner and how one of their friends taught them how to brew a proper cup of coffee. How they started out with a coffee van from which they sold coffee at markets, festivals and other events. They entered the doors of FASoS when Concordantia (nowadays So FASoS) hosted a seminar about 8 years ago and asked Bandito to serve coffee. Their stall was chosen strategically: only a few doors away from the director’s office. By then the student representatives and Concordantia had been lobbying with the faculty board to open a small café at FASoS, as there were no catering facilities. They succeeded when the faculty bought GG86 and the director asked Bandito and the student representatives to turn it into a common room with a small café. Hidden in a corner, down a flight of stairs and surrounded by a garden, Bandito really is the best kept secret of Maastricht.

Diënne is proud of the journey she, her two brothers and Jeroen took. “I think Bandito has a central and connecting role at FASoS”, Diënne explains. “Students and staff don’t just come to us for a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup. They also come to us for the social aspect. We’re always open for a talk, we don’t judge. We’re a safe environment for students because we are not their teachers who are grading them, nor their parents who might have certain expectations. We are simply there to listen to what they have to say, at times comfort them with a cup of coffee. The same goes for staff. We listen to their stories, their struggles at work, but also their fun vacation anecdotes. That’s the real beauty of Bandito, and of FASoS, we wouldn’t want to go any other place.”

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