Campus coffee shops spur loyalty lines
There are four-and-a-half coffee shops on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus, so picking one is determined by the mood and service one is looking for. With plenty of variety, though, most coffee addicts will be able to find their fix.
For instance, located within Edith Garland Dupré Library is Jazzman’s Café, which is managed by Sodexo dining services, UL Lafayette’s food service provider that operates predominantly through students’ Cajun Cash and declining balance.
“I just ask for my coffee not to be burnt,” said Leigh Rourk, a graduate student currently working in creative writing, “which is harder than you think.”
It’s good to know, then, that Rourk’s Jazzman’s coffee is not burnt. Rourk listed some practical reasons for why she chose Jazzman’s amongst the competition.
Firstly, she said she always looks for the availability of soymilk as an option for her coffee — something not every coffee shop offers.
“CC’s might taste better,” she conceded, but said Jazzman’s sees the bulk of her business because from where she works on campus, the library lounge area is slightly closer. She also said that it doesn’t hurt that the employees are nice, either, she added.
Located on the first floor of Edith Garland Dupré Library, which allows regular conversation, Jazzman’s generally has plenty of students chatting. In fact, most coffee shops do. So the more sparse this lounging becomes, the more demand on the service, and the more it becomes about getting in and out. CC’s Coffee House on E. Saint Mary Boulevard does have places to sit, but they are mostly upstairs. There is no guarantee that CC’s is the busiest coffee shop on campus, but go during rush hours — what interviewed baristas from other coffee shops have confirmed as 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — and there will probably be a line. The management declined to comment on their success.
Proximity, as Rourk said, appears to influence where people will stop for their coffee. Unless students live in the Rose Garden or Taft Street dorms, some might consider it a bit of a walk to circumnavigate the Cypress Lake for The Brew.
The Brew, also under Sodexo’s jurisdiction, sells Starbucks coffee, and it is a busy place, with most people socializing or using their laptops. They also sell confections from Sophi P. Cakes, which touts itself as a “sophisticated-to-punk cakery” in a variety of flavors, which are restocked regularly. The Brew manages their product in a similar way to Café Chi Alpha, another coffee shop on campus. This similarity is that they both “import their coffee from Starbucks” but are privately operated, as Pierce Rivera, manager of Café Chi Alpha, stated.
Rivera is a business graduate of UL Lafayette who manages Café Chi Alpha.
“I really enjoy managing,” said Rivera, “and I started managing here at Café Chi Alpha last fall.” Before then, Rivera said he had volunteered as a worker.
When mentioning the four-and-a-half coffee shops earlier, Café Chi Alpha counted as the half. Tucked away in a small floor space of the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship building, it is also sequestered to the other side of Johnston Street, bordered by Papa John’s Pizza and a residential home. The small shop does not accept Cajun Cash or declining balance.
“Our coffee shop is a little in-house,” Riviera said. “Most employees are involved in the ministry here at Chi Alpha, although that’s not a requirement.
“We are low volume, so employees volunteer to work,” Rivera continued, “Not to disparage the other coffee shops on campus, but having volunteers means they want to be here instead of getting a paycheck, and I think that lends us a unique quality.”
Chi Alpha is an accepting student community that fosters friendship and discovery of Jesus. Although the café is small, it is open to all and serves similar products to any Starbucks. Likewise, Campus Grounds is located within the Catholic Center, on the corner of East Saint Mary Boulevard and McKinley Street and offers a similar local experience. Unique to Campus Grounds, however, is a bar to sit at and plenty of open space. The lights are dimmed, and amicable chatter is shared amongst customers.
“If people weren’t socializing, I probably wouldn’t stay long,” said Kaleb Moore, a pre-law student in his sophomore year. “I get the coffee often and come for events at the Catholic Center.”
Though impartial to java, Macie Weaver, a sophomore organizational communication major, said she enjoys socializing with fellow churchgoers, as well as people stopping by for conversations over cappuccinos
“I like Jesus; does that count?” she asked. “The blueberry muffins are really good here, and I come for the Catholic Center, too.”
Derrick Scott, a junior in kinesiology, was on duty as the barista at Campus Grounds. “I love it,” said Scott, in response to his thoughts on the job. “There’s a lot of science that goes into making coffee, like timing the espresso shots.
“A lot of people are regulars and hang out at our location,” Scott continued. At Campus Grounds, the coffee making is personalized, so people can get an iced americano, if they want, which is “typically served hot.”
Campus Grounds may not accept Cajun Cash or declining balance, but it is operated by Rêve Coffee Roasters on Jefferson Street, and Scott said they were ranked as the tenth best micro roaster in the nation — this means the coffee grounds are sourced from multiple locations around the world and customers can choose every detail of their coffee.