Coffee and college students, name a better dynamic duo. We have so many places to choose from, yet we all have our favorites for our own personal reasons. While coffee doesn’t change much, it is the atmosphere and employees that create our preferences. Between the Courtyard Café, River Rock, Diamond Dust, Dunkin’ Donuts, Caribou, and Starbucks, there is no shortage of places to go. After reading that last sentence, I bet your mind already chose your favorite one. Each place is unique and serves its own purpose, and I’d like to share each place’s best qualities, but also why Starbucks holds a special place in my heart.
The beloved Courtyard Café is a popular spot on campus as we all know. Between black tea lemonade Fridays, Carmen the espresso machine, and Brenda Haugen, it always shines a bright light on our day. I love the convenience of getting my ‘usual,’ a short cold brew, and grabbing a table to crank out homework before class. The Courtyard is where you will usually find me when I need to get homework done. It is a great place to see friends and people watch,yet still be productive. “I love the Courtyard because it’s not a corporate chain,” Junior Christiana Nelson said.
On the flip side, because it is so popular, it can be challenging to find atable. Once a table is found, it’s even harder to try to meander through the tables while dodging computer cords, refraining from knocking over chairs, and trying to not whack people in the head with your backpack. We all know the struggle. Overall, the Courtyard is a great place to chill and recharge, but sometimes, it’s nice to get off campus.
The phrase “I’m going to River Rock, wanna come?” is one I hear very often. While I have been to River Rock less times than I’ve been to the library (a very small amount), it remains one of the most popular spots to go on weekends to get things done. River Rock allows for us to take a little field trip off campus, a nice change of scenery. “I like going to River Rock because it is warm and sunny in there, and it’s a change of scenery; I get less distracted in there as well,” Senior Izzy Gerencer said. Between the Insta-worthy drinks, and top notch treats, it’s a prime spot to casually hang with friends, and still tackle homework. In addition, it is always fun to spot the occasional Gustavus professor outside of the classroom.
Diamond Dust and Dunkin’ Donuts are also sweet places (literally) to go to get away from the hill for a bit. It is obvious as to why Diamond Dust is unique from the others: because cupcakes make calculus and chemistry homework a little less bitter. It is a great place to go for a sugar fix in addition to a caffeine fix. A place like Diamond Dust makes it very hard to feel sad and stressed because of the bright colors, and cupcakes that look more put together than I do most days.
On the other hand, Dunkin’ Donuts is good for on-the-go. It’s been a great addition to St. Peter, and so it is so common to see the bright orange straws sticking out of iced lattes as one walks around campus. These places are definitely great for a study break, but not the best a for coffee shop vibe where you can get work done.
I’m going to be honest, I always forget there is a Caribou in St. Peter. Even though I forget about it, I like that it is still an option to go to. Caribou is the place I go to first if I want a fruity sparkling tea. It is nice to have the pick me up at Family Fresh as I get frustrated trying to scan my La Croix at self- checkout, and it locks up on me every time.
To get technical, “I like Caribou because they use an A grade bean, and Starbucks has a C grade bean,” Junior Teanna Britton said. On the flip side, it isn’t my first choice because I can’t exactly do my homework in the middle of the produce section since it is a little pop up stand. Being able to do homework while getting my caffeine is important for me, and the little Caribou just doesn’t cut it. In general, I like Caribous for the coffee shop vibe, or just the feeling of being basic, but they can’t do a cold brew like my one true love can.
Saving the best for last, there are several reasons as to why I prefer Starbucks over other places. First, and most important, they offer Nitro-Cold Brews. For those who don’t know what that is, it is a machine that puts nitrogen in cold brew to make it creamier and velvety. In other words, I pay more to blow bubbles into my coffee. “I prefer the specialty drinks at Starbucks because they usually taste less sugary than the Caribou specialty drinks,” Sophomore Katie Rhoten said. The second reason I prefer Starbucks, is because I can get a lot done there.
It is the perfect balance between having some social facilitation, and being productive. It has that modern coffee shop vibe, and is set up to either work as a group, or individually. It allows me to take a break when I need to, or hunker down and read psych articles for hours. Last, while Starbucks doesn’t have Brenda Haugen, the staff are always personable and friendly. Starbucks is the only place that puts names on drinks, and calls you out by name when your order is ready. Even though it is spelled wrong most of the time, at least they spell it wrong with confidence, and a smile. When it comes down to choosing a favorite coffee shop, it really isn’t about the coffee at all. Having different options to go to can be refreshing as students who live the same routines every day.