Coffee Talk

Building community, cup by cup.

May 2023

Reading time min

Shreyas Lakhtakia sitting on a couch with a cup of coffee

Photo: Erin M. Attkisson

Shreyas Lakhtakia cradles his mug in his hands and tilts his head to one side, contemplating just why it is that every Friday afternoon, he welcomes strangers into his 438-square-foot Escondido Village apartment.

“It’s been a longtime dream to run an intellectual salon,” says the master’s student in management science and engineering, glancing at the espresso machine in his tiny kitchen. At the Beagle Café, as it’s known, free coffee and lively conversation await graduate students who reserve a spot online. Dozens have come, a few at a time—a rocket scientist, an expert on Constantinople—sharing tales of travels and of life back home. Inspired by the close-knit community he found at Darwin’s, a favorite hangout in Boston, Lakhtakia named his salon after the HMS Beagle, the ship that ferried Charles Darwin around the world. Now, a scheduled moment each Friday for busy students to close their laptops, and to connect.

Tracie White is a senior writer at Stanford. Email her at

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