A red-pilled and renovated Motley takes students down the rabbit hole at ‘The Motrix’

Many people sit in couches and chairs inside of a coffee shop
At its opening celebration titled, “The Motrix”, students welcomed the newly renovated Motley Coffeehouse. (Esha Champsi • The Student Life)

5C students with long leather jackets, sleek black sunglasses and slicked-back hairstyles gathered for an evening of ambient green lighting, live music and themed drink options at the Motley Coffeehouse’s annual opening party “The Motrix.” On Sept. 21, students flocked to the Motley to celebrate the café’s much-anticipated public reopening, following renovations.

Since 1974, the Motley Coffeehouse has served as a beloved Scripps College institution. From open to close, students can socialize, study and admire work from student artists in the lounge area and in the surrounding Seal Court.

Following summer renovations, students attending the Motrix were able to check out the Motley’s new space, connect with the community and enjoy the limited-time drink menu. 

Motley frequenter Ashe West-Lewis PZ ’26 expressed his excitement for the reopening.

“I was looking forward to seeing how they transformed the space,” West-Lewis said. “As a matcha lover I was anticipating a real matcha latte, and the Mot is the only place you can get one.”

As with past themes “Mot Gala” and “Jopening,” this year’s “The Motrix,” a play on “The Matrix,” allowed students to embrace an accessible, yet creative dress code with all-black outfits inspired by the blockbuster film franchise.

“My roommate and I each wore all-black, leather jackets and black sunglasses to fit the theme as best we could,” West-Lewis said. “It was really fun to see everyone dressed for the theme and take it seriously.”

The enthusiasm for this year’s theme extended to the beverage choices. A line wrapped around the side of the coffeehouse as students ordered themed drinks such as the “Red-Pilled,” a mix of sparkling raspberry lemonade, “Blue-Pilled,” a mix of sparkling blue raspberry lemonade and “Main Frame,” the well-loved matcha cha cha – matcha with vanilla – with edible glitter.

“I was looking forward to seeing how they transformed the space. As a matcha lover I was anticipating a real matcha latte, and the Mot is the only place you can get one.”

Motley manager Briza Manrique SC ’25 emphasized the Motrix’s function as a celebration for Motley staff.

“We wanted to have a space where people could hang out and come together again after opening and see all the hard work we put into [all the renovations],” Manrique said.

Event coordinator and Motley manager Nayla Dayal SC ’25 spoke on the challenges the Motley staff has faced as a student-run business while preparing for this semester’s opening.

“What made the process different this year was having to account for the fact that we’re working in a completely new space with a new set of machines,” Dayal said. “It’s been difficult, but also so rewarding.”

Upon entering the Motley, students encountered several new additions to the space. The coffeehouse was decorated with new furniture, lighting fixtures, carpeting and exposed wood beams. The updated atmosphere maintained many of the building’s historical quirks like the exposed brick wall and large open windows in the lounge. Dayal described some of the other changes that were made this summer.

“The wall that’s next to the door has been brought forward and behind that wall now is the office,” Dayal said. “Our new tiles on the front of the Motley which you see as you enter are hand-painted by students.”

To match its renovated surroundings, the Motley also acquired a new espresso machine and two new grinders to keep up with their growing demand.

After sipping down their drinks, students headed to the coffeehouse’s interior lounge to enjoy live music from on-campus bands Fischli’s Animals and Tea Room. With performances of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, the space was packed with students dancing and cheering along to the music.

“The student bands make the community building aspect of these events,” Dayal said. “[They] are able to really engage an audience of people.”

As the night came to an end, students exited the lounge with empty cups of cold brew and a newfound excitement for the freshly renovated setting that Motley provides on campus.

“For some people, [the Motley] is literally just a coffee shop,” Dayal said. “I think to many others, it’s a place where you can meet your friends, you can grab a coffee, but also a place where there’s so many events that we have going on throughout the year.”

Over the course of the semester, the Motley hopes to hold more events and host on-campus organizations for club meetings. To stay updated with the Motley’s upcoming announcements, you can follow their Instagram and TikTok @motleycoffee.

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