The Daily Grind

Hey everyone! Min here to tell you about the Swarthmore coffee scene.


I hated coffee when I first tasted it. Who knows how long it took for me to acquire the taste — short or long, weeks or years; it doesn’t matter. I love it now. Almost every morning in high school senior year, my friend would pick me up at 7 am and we’d make a Dunkin run for iced coffee, even in below-zero weather. We loved iced coffee.

Mmm. Taken by Stephanie, on her blog May Squared.

While the coffee scene wasn’t a deciding factor, per se, for my college choice, I am definitely glad it exists at Swarthmore. The Science Center and Kohlberg coffee bars have rotating flavors that range from Hazelnut to “Finest Hour” (“a semi-dark coffee that gives up no flavor in the roast and has a uniquely smooth ending”), all from Tally Ho, a local coffeemaker. Beyond that, they can make any kind of espresso I’ve ever wanted, and the chai lattes are to die for (especially if you like really sweet chai lattes). They also make smoothies, popular on hot days, from the same fresh fruit they’re selling. The coffee bars are conveniently located in the same buildings that many students have classes, and the Science Center one is open until midnight on weeknights.

Taken by unknown. Featured on Swarthmore College Dining Services.

If, however, I’m in the mood for something more small-business and independent, I head down to the end of campus, cross the train tracks, and end up at Hobbs Coffee. Their delightfully minimalist website does not show that their shop is filled with cozy booths, paintings for sale by local artists, and Swarthmore students. Hobbs’s bagel sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, Nutella and banana, etc.) are popular brunch or afternoon snack items. The only downside is that they close at 18:00 most nights, and 17:00 on Sundays, and a lot of college students stay up much later than that.

Hobbs Coffee shop. Taken by  Jim, the Photographer (www.flickr.com/photos/jcapaldi).
Hobbs Coffee shop. Taken by Jim, the Photographer.

If I’m craving coffee later at night, especially iced coffee with flavor for no extra charge (I highly recommend a medium iced coffee with cream, butter pecan, and half the ice), I head to Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin’s coffee, as a chain, is dependably above average. Their chai latte rivals the campus coffee bars’.

Taken by Andy Shelter.

In the end, the choice often depends on how many points I have. Since I ran out during the last week of classes, I spent cash instead of points at the campus coffee bars the last few weeks before finals ended, so going to Hobbs or Dunkin was around the same cost for me. Before that, however, I was reluctant to get coffee and other items from Hobbs or Dunkin when they were “free” at the coffee bars. I know people who prefer to go off-campus, even to Philly, just to study at a coffee shop. It’s all about atmosphere and the quality of the java in your cup.

Go forth, coffee lovers! Drink and be merry!

Author’s Note: I have not been paid or compensated by any of these establishments to write this. These are merely my personal experiences with them, and should not be assumed to be identical to all people’s experiences.

3 thoughts on “The Daily Grind

    1. Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for the comment!
      One of the greatest things about the dining hall is that they keep the teabags well-stocked. There are always six varieties of Bigelow tea, as well as some Tetley “select teas”. You can always grab a few from there.
      If you’re on the go, the Science Center and Kohlberg coffee bars both have probably something like 12-15 kinds of teas, including blacks, greens, herbals, oolong…
      As a moderate tea drinker myself, I am really happy with the availability of free tea on campus. 🙂

      Best,
      Min

      1. Thank you for answering! That sounds like heaven! A college where all beverages are welcome and accepted 🙂

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