From Biology to Brewing: Life is a Rough Rough Draft

Written by Corinne Prost

Most people visualize scientists wearing white lab coats, measuring liquids and substances through beakers and test tubes, all the while staring intently at the gaseous, fizzling chaos before them. While it seems that scientific experiments are limited to the laboratory, they’re really just a product of a systematic trial-and-error approach applicable to many other parts of life. Carly Hubbard (2016) is a prime example of this—rather than moving on to a medical or graduate school, she took her biology degree in an entirely unique (and delicious) direction.

During her four years at Hillsdale, Carly gravitated toward the order and methods that define lab work. While the subjects of her research interested her, she realized poring over her mixtures alone wasn’t what she desired.

“I would be alone by myself in a lab for hours and hours, and if I heard someone coming down the hall, I would say hey and ask to talk,” she explained. “I realized that I needed there to be more of an immediate connection between myself and the end goal of my work. I didn’t get to be as creative in genetics, but I definitely enjoyed the experimentation processes in the lab. The systems, the techniques, and how precise you had to be: that was very appealing for me, but what I realized about myself was that it felt more isolated.”

Her jobs and travels throughout her collegiate career opened her eyes to the things that excited her: essentially, the joy of serving others and the art of crafting various beverages.

“I waitressed and bartended all throughout college. I fell in love with making cocktails, and I think Michigan beer is really special. I think it just reflects what I like. I visited so many cities that are considered the heart of coffee; there, it felt like a different drink. In so many of these other places, you can get a great cup of coffee or cocktail, and I said to myself: why not Hillsdale? I thought we deserved this.”

During the second semester of her senior year, Carly decided that the knowledge and skills she had acquired in the sciences didn’t have to be mutually exclusive with her passion for brewing specialty drinks.

“Even though my major doesn’t pertain to what I do every day that much, it trained me to try multiple times at figuring something out. I had to adjust, and be resourceful, and be a creative problem-solver. The coffee shop is like an extremely social lab. We scale out the times, the water weight, and we look at details that require a lot of precision. Along with that, you can make someone happy immediately. Everyone deserves to be handed something beautiful, and I think that idea is really satisfying for me.”

The name for her shop, Rough Draft, didn’t come easily. Ultimately, Carly settled on the name both because nothing else sat well with her, and because it suited her outlook on life.

“I was looking for something that would just work, and would feel sincere and accurately represent what I was doing. I remember it was the summer before, and I tried a lot of color-object combinations, or descriptor and animal, and those were just not interesting because they didn’t mean anything. I had to intuitively feel what wasn’t right. Rough Draft started to make more sense because it matched the style of the materials, because it’s not a polished place. It feels like we live in a very polished, edited world, and I just think that the rough draft should get more attention.”

As she reflected on her time at Hillsdale College, Carly parted with some post-graduate wisdom.

“We should respect our mistakes and hold them in high regard because it’s those moments that make us who we are—those moments that we struggle, where we face the blank page or the empty project and we just try and try again until tomorrow. I think it’s a very beautiful and humbling process.”

Corinne Prost, 19′, is an American studies major and rhetoric minor. She dreams to one day own a library so extensive that it rivals the one from Beauty and the Beast.

Published in February 2019.