A long-awaited project more than two years in the making is finally here!

The idea began percolating in early 2017. Two UMBC courses, more than 40 students, and countless local partners, contributors, and supporters later, OCA Mocha a catalyst that will more closely connect UMBC and its surrounding communities. What originally started out as a question raised by local business and community groups and the UMBC administration has now been answered by UMBC students. “How can we make Arbutus into a college town?” A coffee shop? A community engagement center? Well, how about a mix of both?

Here’s how a group of students, with support from partners from UMBC and the local community, were able to take the next step toward creating a college town together.


Our History

UMBC President’s Council Tours Arbutus

June 7, 2016

School president Freeman Hrabowski, his President’s Council, and community leaders took a bus tour of Arbutus, turning what was an idea of creating a college town into a larger discussion.


Start of the First Class, ENTR 340

January 31, 2017

ENTR 340: Innovation, Creative Problem Solving, and the Socialpreneur, was the first class during which the ideas that became OCA Mocha were discussed. Instructor Gib Mason '95, along with student co-founders Deep Patel '19 and Michael Berardi '19, have been involved with the OCA Mocha team since that original class.


Students Meet With Campus Leaders and GABA President

February 7, 2017

Students in the ENTR 340 expressed their interest in creating a college town during a visit from Associate Vice President, Engagement, and Assistant to the President, Lisa Akchin; Executive Director of UMBC Transit Joe Regier; and President of the Greater Arbutus Business Association, Bettina Tebo. It was during this visit that Lisa Akchin raised the question “How can we create a college town?” to the students in the class.


Students Tour Arbutus

February 14, 2017

Students from ENTR 340 took a bus tour of Arbutus.


Students Pitch OCA Mocha Idea to President Hrabowski

May 9, 2017

After extensive research and debate, students proposed opening a combined office of community affairs/coffee shop where members of the UMBC and local communities could gather to interact with and learn from each other, enjoy some coffee and live entertainment, and attend university- and community-sponsored events. The students named the project OCA Mocha, and after a long semester of work, they pitched their idea for OCA Mocha as the catalyst for the evolution of a college town to President Hrabowski and his President’s Council.


Baltimore Sun Article

May 24, 2017

The story of OCA Mocha gets publicly recognized in a Baltimore Sun Article titled “Can Arbutus be a college town? A class project spells out a vision for closer connections.”


Start of the Second Class, FYS 102

September 2, 2017

FYS 102: Creativity, Innovation & Invention, was a class of 19 students that split up into four groups: Product Development, Marketing & Sales, Legal & Patent, and Business & Finance, to continue developing plans for OCA Mocha.


Bus trip to Station North

November 9, 2017

Some students from FYS 102 along with instructor Gib Mason, Lisa Akchin, LaMar Davis, and Joe Regier, visited Station North to gather inspiration from the Arts and Entertainment District. The team also met with Will Anderson, Director of Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development, to discuss OCA Mocha’s goals for UMBC and the surrounding communities.


Meeting with Wilkens Police Community Relations Organization

November 21, 2017

Students presented their ideas for OCA Mocha to community members during a meeting of the Wilkens Police Community Relations Organization. Their presentation was met with tremendous support and overall excitement.


OCA Mocha Discussion with Community Leaders at UMBC Southwest Community Leaders Networking Night

November 30, 2017

Students from the OCA Mocha team presented in front of both University and community leaders and held table conversations to further discuss how UMBC and the community can work together to establish a college town that equally benefits all involved communities.


Students Make Final Presentation at Arbutus Town Hall

December 12, 2017

After a semester of hard work turning what was just an idea into a reality, the class presented their revised plan to President Hrabowski, and members of the UMBC and local communities.


Lease Signed

March 15, 2018

The lease for 5410 East Drive was finalized with building owner, Steve Moran FSJ, Inc.; OCA Mocha had found a home!


OCA Mocha Presentation to UMBC Student Organizations

April 19, 2018

The OCA Mocha team met with leaders of UMBC student organizations to introduce the concept and pitch the space as a place for an event and meeting space.


First open house during Arbutus Arts Festival

May 20, 2018

OCA Mocha represented UMBC for the first time at the Arbutus Arts Festival, opening up the space for a sneak peek for the 20,000 festival attendees. The space held individual vendors as well as live music and an art gallery.


First Meeting with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company

June 4, 2018

Students and Joe Regier met with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company (CBRC) to discuss a potential partnership. Students toured CBRC’s roastery in Crofton, Maryland, and sampled their many different specialty coffee blends.


Bus trip to UMB Community Engagement Center

June 25, 2018

UMBC leaders joined the OCA Mocha team for a tour of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center. The team got to witness firsthand the positive transformations that UMB was making in its surrounding communities and gather inspiration and guidance en route to creating our own mutually beneficial college town.


OCA Mocha Participated in the UMBC University Retreat

August 22, 2018

OCA Mocha students were invited to attend the annual UMBC University Retreat and also provided an update on OCA Mocha’s progress in front of hundreds of UMBC leaders and talked one-on-one with UMBC administration, faculty, staff, and students who visited an OCA Mocha information booth.


Racial Bias Training for OCA Mocha Team

October 16, 2018

Brady Wheeler of UMBC’s The Choice Program led racial bias training for the OCA Mocha team. The team engaged in bonding activities through structured questions and left with valuable lessons for implementing racially aware and sensitive tactics in regards to everything from our hiring process to our daily interactions between our staff and customers.


Presentation to UMBC President’s Council

November 19, 2018

The team updated the President’s Council on progress with the project, and continued discussions on the many different ways the OCA Mocha space can be used to benefit UMBC and the local community.


Outside Investors Express Interest in OCA Mocha

December 5, 2018

After facing an unexpected challenge related to funding for the coffee shop portion of the project, the team bounced back and tackled the problem head on and within a week was able to identify and bring in outside investors to invest into the coffee shop.


Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company Agreement

December 5, 2018

The investors, UMBC representatives, and CBRC reached an agreement to create a permanent partnership by choosing CBRC to be our sole coffee provider!


Celebration of Partnership

March 14, 2019

The OCA Mocha team celebrated the long-awaited start of construction alongside the project’s biggest partners, contributors, and supporters from the community and UMBC.


Baltimore Sun Article

October 24, 2019

OCA Mocha's forthcoming grand opening gets attention in a Baltimore Sun Article titled “UMBC's OCA Mocha coffee shop in Arbutus to open Nov. 4.”