Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
Published in the April 26, 2017 issue of The Bells
People like to joke that coffee is the lifeblood of a college student. Everyone acts as though we run on caffeine
And in all fairness, we play into the stereotype quite often.
The problem is that when most students choose to go, they choose more often than not to visit a corporate coffee chain. And why shouldn’t they?
We have one on campus, and off-campus – they are everywhere.
They are convenient, they work fairly quickly, and the atmosphere usually makes it worth hanging out for a while.
But there are better options, like visiting local coffee places or ordering beans online and making your own.
Most of my experience with coffee has either been at Starbucks, when I was around junior high age, or at a shop at home where I worked for nearly three years.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the owner of the shop hated each and every one of the giants that dominate the coffee industry.
He did research into some of the larger brands, and found some issues with how they treat their product.
One of the facts about coffee that most people do not know is that it goes stale but not “bad.” It loses most of its taste, but does not expire.
Ideally though, when you make coffee, your beans were roasted less than a month beforehand.
At most of the big-name places, coffee can be sitting around for up to six months.
And more often than not, the coffee is over-roasted. This one is less avoidable.
Big companies have to make sure they provide all of their stores with beans that will end up tasting the same when they are made into drinks, and they have to do it in bulk.
But that causes issues for small shops, because customers come in expecting that what they ask for in more mainstream shops will taste the same there.
And it makes them angry when they get the wrong roast or blend, which just drives them back to the bigger chains.
Cups cause a bigger issue than you might think as well.
You cannot walk into a small shop and ask for a size that you would get elsewhere. Just use the terms “small,” “medium” or “large,” please. If a company uses other sizes, they are likely branded and unusable by other companies.
Small, local places lack all the drama of a larger brand. The names of the drinks are straightforward, the sizes make sense, and the employees are usually friendlier.
They generally have the same kind of atmosphere, where you can study or do homework, play cards with your friends or just hang out and talk.
And it’s even better when you can find a place that roasts their product in-house. You are guaranteed a fresh cup of coffee.
So maybe the next time you’re looking for somewhere to caff-up, pass on that big chain, and search local places on Google, take a couple of friends, and give something new a try.