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Locally owned Campers Coffee supporting veterans, teachers replaces Starbucks on campus during COVID-19 pandemic

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Campers Coffee

Campers Coffee sits on the South Oval during the first day of classes on Aug. 24.

Campers Coffee — the veteran-owned mobile coffee shop — is serving the OU community in place of Starbucks, which is closed due to COVID-19

The camper is usually parked outside of the Bizzell Memorial Library in the South Oval and offers a wide range of beverages, from everyday favorites to energy refreshments and seasonal coffees like jack-o-lantern, toasted mocha, s’mores and pumpkin sweet cream cold brew. The camper also has the option to create your own concoction with a wide selection of different flavors.  

The truck was added by OU Food Services in place of the Starbucks located in the Bookmark, said Amy Buchanan, director of marketing and communications for OU Housing and Food Services. So far, Campers Coffee is only guaranteed to serve OU for the fall semester, said co-owner Kayley Gordon in an email.

The camper's few recent absences on campus were due to prior commitments, Gordon said, but the business plans on being at OU every day. Gordon said the camper will also attend other local events on the weekends and offers a catering service for events and festivities. 

Campers Coffee is owned by retired Air Force veteran Jared Slentz and his wife Kayley Gordon. The couple purchased the camper in December 2019 and completed the renovation process in June, and they began to operate immediately, Gordon said. 

Gordon said Jared was laid off amid COVID-19. As a result, he decided to open Campers Coffee with his wife, where he learned how to become a barista. 

“Jared is the magic behind the scene of Campers Coffee and the best barista that I know,” Gordon said. 

Gordon decided to continue working for her full-time job until she feels secure enough to run Campers Coffee full time.

“We’ve been extremely blessed to get the opportunity to serve the students and staff here at OU so early on in our business adventure,” Gordon said. “We hope it can continue and open even bigger doors for us in the future.”

The owners said they intend to give back to the community by offering a discount to veterans, law enforcement, first responders and teachers to support their hard work.

“It’s important to us that you know where your hard-earned money goes and who you’re supporting when you shop with us,” Gordon said.

Campers Coffee is scheduled to be on campus from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Note: This story was corrected at 12:40 p.m. Oct. 14 to clarify the business is not scaling back OU operations but is instead honoring prior commitments.

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