Campus offers plenty of coffee resource

Carnegie Mellon has plenty of on-campus locations that can provide your daily caffeine fix. These locations vary in value, wait time, and hours. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | ) Carnegie Mellon has plenty of on-campus locations that can provide your daily caffeine fix. These locations vary in value, wait time, and hours. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | )

For college students across the globe, caffeine has become essential for getting through the day. In any given location on campus, there is at least one readily available source of coffee. Carnegie Mellon offers eleven main facilities for ordering coffee: Tazza D’Oro, Maggie Murph Café, Zebra Lounge, The Exchange, Ginger’s Express, La Prima Espresso, Skibo Café, Carnegie Mellon Café, the Underground, Stephanie’s, and Entropy+.

Each of these facilities offers a range of choices, from espressos to mocha lattes to cappuccinos. A majority of the facilities’ beverages are provided by CulinArt, which uses Starbucks products.

Carnegie Mellon Café and Maggie Murph Café, as well as The Exchange and Ginger’s Express, which are owned by Mike Clarkson and Kevin Huber, are the most popular coffee locations. They offer the widest range of Starbucks products, often mirroring the full Starbucks menu. This is convenient for students who need their Starbucks fix but may not have time to go to the Craig Street location for their coffee.

However, other venues give coffee on campus some variety if students don’t like Starbucks products.

The Underground in Morewood, Skibo Café in the University Center, and Zebra Lounge in the College of Fine Arts building are all managed by Gullifty’s Restaurant. All of these campus locations sell fair-trade and organic coffees. The Underground and Skibo Café are primarily used by students for food, while Zebra Lounge is primarily a beverage vendor.

Tazza D’Oro at the R-Bar Café in the Gates Center is managed by the company Tazza D’Oro, which has another café location in Highland Park. The company currently roasts Verve coffees. It offers a different specialty brew every day, each with its own flavor and geographic origin. According to its website, “We love coffee, we love bicycles and we love creating community all centered around a carefully prepared cup of coffee or espresso.” Tazza D’Oro uses ingredients from local and independent farms and vendors for all its beverages and food, encouraging growth among smaller businesses.

“The key to good coffee is good beans. On campus, the best beans can be found at La Prima and Tazza,” said Christopher Palmer, a sophomore electrical engineering major. “I personally prefer getting drip from Prima and cappuccinos from Tazza. Both places are reasonably priced and have decent coffee. If you like making your own coffee in your apartment or dorm, Tazza is the only place to buy coffee beans, which you can have them grind for you or grind yourself.”

“I’m going to say La Prima and Seattle’s Best [from the University Center] are my favorites. Seattle’s Best, just because I used to drink it at home all the time,” said Shilpa Balaji, a sophomore computer science major. “Tazza [D’Oro] is probably the strongest, so that could be the best option depending on what you’re looking for, but it’s sometimes a little too thick for my taste. The Guatemalan blend at Skibo is generally extremely watered down, which makes me not generally opt for it.”

La Prima Espresso is an outside company that operates its own cart on the fifth floor of Wean Hall. According to its website, it only sells fair trade coffee. La Prima offers students a “coffee of the month” at its cart, allowing for even more variety. “I generally go to either La Prima or Tazza D’Oro. On taste alone, I slightly prefer Tazza D’Oro, but they’re both good,” said Lucas Ray, a sophomore computer science major.
Not a fan of coffee? There are plenty of alternative beverage options on campus that still pack a punch of caffeine to help you stay awake and alert in classes. All of these dining facilities offer a wide selection of teas, hot water canisters, and various energy drinks in addition to their coffee options.

Unfortunately, a majority of these facilities are closed throughout the weekend, a time when students may need caffeine the most. Only a few are open every day of the week: Maggie Murph Café, Skibo Café, Carnegie Mellon Café, the Underground, and Entropy+. This severely cuts down on the options available to students, which may force them to seek a location off campus for their coffee needs.

Students should be economical in where they go for coffee on campus; they should look for the locations that offer the most coffee for the lowest cost. La Prima Espresso, for example, only has 16 oz. as its largest size, and any coffee in that size costs about $4. Comparatively, Maggie Murph Café offers a large size of 20 oz. for a similar price. Wait time can also factor into a student’s preferred coffee location: More popular places on campus can take up to 15 minutes just to order a plain coffee, depending on the time of day. This can severely bite into students’ time between classes and affect their busy schedules.

Striking a balance between wait time and price can be tricky. “You can usually go to La Prima right after a class ends and get your drink with a few minutes to spare before your next class,” said Ray. “Tazza D’Oro, on the other hand, usually has at least a 10 minute wait or more right after classes let out, probably since they also serve meals. However, Tazza D’Oro is considerably cheaper than La Prima, so the wait is sometimes worth it.”

Overall, when it comes to buying coffee on campus, students should weigh several factors before settling upon their favorite coffee location, those factors mainly being price, wait time, availability, and, of course, taste.