Free Speech Movement Cafe | Research

Assignment for the course "Needs and Usability Assessment," spring 2014.

Photo of Free Speech Movement Cafe, located on the UC Berkeley campus

Photo of Free Speech Movement Cafe, located on the UC Berkeley campus


  • Make recommendations for improving customer service
  • Find opportunities to be smarter, exceed customer expectations, and serve the campus community in ways they hadn't yet considered


  • Affinity diagram
  • Presentation of top three insights


Observation: There's limited seating, and all of the tables were two-seaters occupied by a single person. People also clustered at tables near the walls, where the power outlets are.

Suggestion: Add communal tables near the walls to encourage people to take advantage of all chairs and offer more students access to the outlets.


Observation: The espresso drinks are handed out directly next to the registers. Clumps of people build up near the station, clogging the area and creating confusion about who's in line to order.

Suggestion: Move the coffee distribution to the other side of the espresso machine, away from the registers. 


Observation: Lines build up around the condiments station. Only two people can access it at a time, and there is only one offering for each condiment—sugar, creamer, napkins.

Suggestion: Add a second condiments station on the other side of the coffee bar.

Condiments station at Free Speech Movement Cafe


To better understand how customers experience Free Speech Movement Cafe, I spent an hour sitting near the register and observing how people used and moved around. My three teammates observed the cafe during other times of day.

Our team met up to create an affinity diagram based on our observations. We added post-its for observations and supporting images.

Finally, we agreed on our central themes and top 3 suggestions for improving the cafe's service. We presented our ideas and affinity diagram to the class: