With the first round of exams and papers bound to hit agendas in the near future and midterms looming in the distance, Mercerians new and old will be searching for a coffee shop with fast internet and quality caffeine to energize and motivate. Three coffee shops near and dear to students’ hearts are evaluated to assist you when weighing your options.
Everyone is familiar with this “green giant.” Since its founding in 1971, this sprawling company has become emblematic of the coffee craze worldwide, hosting a symbol that is universally recognizable and on just about every street corner.
While nonconformists and patrons of local java joints loathe this monster of a distributor and bemoan its prices, Starbucks wins major brownie points for consistency. “Starbucks [gets] your order right every time,” said former music student Edward Atkinson. A venti-skim-double drip latte is interpreted the same at its Times Square store as its quaint corner location in Fayetteville, Ga. The convenience of interstate locations make this shop an easy stop for weary travelers, and installations in grocery stores, shopping malls and college campuses enforce Starbucks’ monopoly in coffee consumption. Its reward program is unparalleled, because few coffee chains can compete with its annual profits.
When looked at from the perspective of a discerning coffee connoisseur, one can notice a few flaws. Commercialization keeps Starbucks from being a personal experience. If you have been inside one location, you have visited them all. The quality of their whole bean coffee is undeniable, but their blended drinks make a mockery of traditional cafes. Words like “frappuccino” and “macchiato” have come to be commonplace in the vernacular. To say that Starbucks is a household name is true, but to snobby coffee-goers it will always represent all that is inherently wrong with globalization.
Located on Washington Avenue, Joshua Cup is a treasured secret for its customers. Its subdued, chic atmosphere and high-quality coffee is what keeps Mercerians coming back for more. Joshua Cup is a favorite of Sara Black, Mercer student: “The coffee is better than Jittery Joe’s and the atmosphere is better than Starbucks.” Like its competitors, Joshua Cup offers customers a range of blended and espresso beverages, but keeps true to traditional preparation. A macchiato is an espresso shot with a dollop of steamed milk, not an overdone caramel syrup catastrophe. The store itself is divided into two spaces, one hosting the brewing station and another which can be closed to reduce noise. “There’s more space to move around and find somewhere comfortable, like the side room if you really need quiet and focus or the main room if you want to be around more of the coffee shop hustle and bustle,” said Marshall. Joshua Cup keeps similar hours to Jittery Joe’s, opening 30 minutes earlier on weekdays, and offers wireless service that is considerably faster than Mercer internet. Its location outside of walking distance deters most students from visiting, but its loyal constituency speaks for its quality beverages and comfortable environment.
If you are unfamiliar with this Mercer mainstay, you are blind, deaf and most certainly living in an altered version of reality. This store is always packed with college students, professors, law and medical students and Maconites. Run by a personable band of hipster students and young adults, Jittery Joe’s rewards its loyal customers with its drink cards. When I was a freshman, every staff member knew my drink order and where I usually liked to sit. Its hours are perfect for stretched and stressed Mercerians; doors open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight every day of the week, with a 24-hour schedule during finals week. Located right across the street from the Lofts at Mercer Village, it is a natural choice for students to grab a bagel or coffee in between classes, and is a common meeting place for friends and business partners.
What’s the catch? Students crowded around electrical outlets are frequently frustrated at the slow speed of its wireless internet; whether this is a Mercer problem, or can be attributed to the number of students on the network is not the concern of this article.
Other students commented on the quality of coffee: “Jittery Joe’s [coffee] is bitter and has a horrible after-taste,” said Dana Marshall.
The space of the actual store is also a straight slab without a real division between a stage where local performers entertain and a study area, a situation that can get annoying when there are a lot of customers conversing.