For Maryland volleyball coach Adam Hughes, the best part of waking up isn’t the thought of heading into his office, or running his team through film review or practice. Instead, it’s the knowledge he’ll soon have a freshly ground cup of coffee.
And it’s that cup of coffee — a no-frills brew — that powers Hughes through the rest of his busy schedule.
“I like pretty dark roasts with some more flavor, kind of a stout almost. Will not do any flavors. No cinnamon, no snickerdoodle. I won’t do, like, hazelnut roasted, blah, blah, blah. No chance,” Hughes said. “No additives. Always black.”
Coffee has become a routine in Hughes’ daily life, despite the coach entering the java scene late. His obsession has slowly grown along with his coaching career.
What was once something to keep him up through the long hours of his job now takes up the left-hand corner of his office. Hughes drinks several cups a day, brewing his own with coffee grinders and pots he’s accumulated over the years.
His passion for coffee has taken on new life at Maryland, expanding into a weekly Twitter segment, “Coffee With Coach Hughes”.
The segment — which lasts about one minute — features Hughes talking about anything from upcoming opponents to impact players. It offers a personal look into the program, something Hughes prides himself on.
“One of the things was being true and real to what we are,” Hughes said. “I’m not trying to hide anything.”
It’s something his players have recognized and it’s become a signature part of Hughes’ personality.
“Like he says in the videos we post every week, ‘It’s the fuel for Maryland volleyball,’” middle blocker Katie Myers said. “I think it’s a big part for us.”
Myers says seeing Hughes without a mug or cup in hand is a rarity.
Before the Terps played Indiana on Nov. 15, Myers and outside hitters Rebekah Rath and Hailey Rubino went to a coffee shop. Lo and behold, as the players got to the store, Hughes walked out of it.
“Hey,” Myers said, “he’s got his gameday coffee in.”
The coffee-mania has become ingrained in the culture of the program, so much so that recruits immediately notice it during visits. It can become the topic of conversation.
When Hughes recruited Rath, the Altamonte Springs, Florida, native quickly formed a connection with her future coach due to the drinks they each enjoy.
“We used to talk about caffeine addictions,” Rath said, “because he really likes coffee and I really like energy drinks.”
As Hughes — who just finished his second season as a head coach — attempts to build a bond between the players and staff, coffee plays a role. He wants to create a family-oriented program. He wants players to feel relaxed, even in the uber-competitive Big Ten.
Coffee can be a conversation starter, and it can be a way to step away from the expectations of top-level volleyball.
“I like the communal aspect of having a good cup of coffee. I’ll go with a couple of them to go get coffee over at Vigilante just because it’s a walk and it gets us out of the building,” Hughes said. “You get to know somebody rather than being in the gym the whole time.”
It also feeds into his idea of habits and routines. Hughes sees coffee as a “healthier addition” compared to other vices, something “pretty safe, pretty mundane.”
Just like his daily pour-overs, he encourages players to stick with routines. They see it as a positive reminder overall.
There’s just one thing that’s changed: his coffee cups.
Thanks to a few players, including Myers, and some subtle reminders on social media, Hughes made the switch to go green.
“Him and his wife had a challenge with each other: the first person to forget a reusable cup loses,” Myers said. “It’s stuck ever since.”