My favorite part about being a barista at The Coffee Closet in Harkness House is getting to experiment with different drinks. The good, the bad, the ugly—I will make it all. Aside from making my own drinks, I also love to support the other coffee shops on campus, such as the Blue Camel located in Shain Library and Coffee Grounds located a couple of steps away from my residence hall in the Katherine Blunt House. And sometimes when I have a little extra time I make coffee in my room. Needless to say, with all of these options I stay caffeinated. I get bored if I have the same drink every day so I like to order different things from each shop depending on my mood or needs for the day. And during my four years here I definitely have found favorite drinks at each shop.
My go-to coffee shop, and also my place of work, is The Coffee Closet. At The Coffee Closet, you will likely find me chatting with friends while sipping on a dirty iced chai. I believe that I have found the magic and secret ratio of ingredients for this drink and I have gotten positive feedback from a lot of customers. The spice of the chai and the sweetness of the milk are a classic complimentary pair while the espresso adds a much-needed caffeine boost. The earthy notes of the espresso do not conflict with the chai or milk, it actually enhances the flavor in my humble opinion. I could drink this every day.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, I cross Larrabee courtyard to go to Coffee Grounds, another student-run coffee shop on campus. I go to Coffee Grounds on these days because I do not have a morning class. My friend Deverly, who is the manager of Coffee Grounds, has her shifts during those times, so I go to visit her as well. I recently discovered that Coffee Grounds is the only shop on campus that has Thai iced tea. So naturally, I had to try it. The tea mix is premade and steeped by the baristas and is then mixed with sugar and half-and-half to create a rich orange drink that will satisfy any sweet tooth. I realized it also resembles a personal favorite drink (sadly unavailable at Conn) which is cà phê s?a ?á or Vietnamese iced coffee. Both of these drinks have a richness that keeps you wanting more. For the Thai iced tea, it is the half-and-half and sugar combination, and for the Cà Phê S?a ?á it is the condensed milk that gives it the rich flavor. Maybe I can convince the managers of Coffee Grounds to try adding Vietnamese coffee to their menu.
Lastly, we have the Blue Camel Café which can be found on the first floor of Shain Library, one of the most active parts of campus. I like to get something at the Blue Camel that I cannot get anywhere else on campus: a smoothie. Unless you have your own blender, it can be hard to find fresh smoothies on campus, though bottled smoothies can be found in Oasis Snack Shop. This makes the banana strawberry smoothie from Blue Camel such a treat. The cold drink is refreshing and the fruit flavors, which include pineapple juice, add a natural sweetness that makes it feel like a healthy drink choice. I have never tried adding pineapple juice when making smoothies at home, but the next school break I will definitely be making smoothies like this for my family.
I have listed some of my favorite drinks on campus but there are so many options to choose from. This list could go on forever. When you’re feeling really indecisive or are maybe visiting a shop for the first time, I recommend asking a barista for a recommendation because we have tried most of the drinks at our shops and can direct you to something delicious and/or caffeinated.