Community connects through coffee


Wenyuan Chen | The Daily Illini

A latte at Caffe Paradiso on Lincoln Avenue and Nevada Street on Saturday, October 1st.

By Sam Schrage, Contributing writer

Every year, it seems like a new coffee shop opens on campus, whether it’s a new Starbucks on Oregon Street or a cafe on Green Street.

On campus, coffee is much more than just a drink. It has become a necessity for studying, socialization and coming together in the community. With most coffee shops staying open from the earliest class to 11 o’clock cramming sessions, it makes sense that students have built connections and routines around their caffeine fix. 

“Coffee shops are where people go for first dates, studying or just for a break. It’s so diverse and comforting,” said Emma Hoffmann, barista at Espresso Royale and junior in ACES.

According to a Twitter poll conducted by The Daily Illini, 57 percent of respondents drink more than four cups of coffee per week. Likewise, 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day, according to Statistic Brain.

Coffee consumption is not limited to undergraduate students. Other people on campus also need their daily cup of joe — and maybe more than one cup. Patrick Kimutis, a graduate student in the department of English, drinks four or five cups daily for an economical price of $8 per week — roughly the same price as two grande Starbucks lattes. Kimutis, who prefers to make his coffee himself, said he “is not a real person if I don’t have (coffee).” 

For those who prefer to buy their drinks, there are plenty of options.

Coffee shops around campus

Espresso Royale is a café chain with eight campus locations. One of the most popular locations is in the Undergraduate Library, which is currently undergoing its third remodel. 

District Manager Doug Mccarver said Espresso Royale’s busy hours are 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

One of the reasons for Espresso Royale’s popularity and growth is the effort the staff puts in to make personal connections with customers.

“A barista can make your day if they make your drink just how you wanted it,” said Megan Naydenova, barista at Espresso Royal and senior in LAS. 

Mccarver emphasized the importance of costumers to the café’s success. 

“80 percent of business comes from 20 percent of our customers,” Mccarver said.

The 20 percent of customers Mccarver referred to are the “regulars” who come in once or sometimes even multiple times a day. 

“We have a lot of regular customers. They are the best because they are usually friendly and polite,” Naydenova said. “I see people and I know their order; it just happens naturally.”

Starbucks has four locations on campus, one of which is new to campus this year and is located on Oregon Street in Urbana. Other locations include Green Street, the Illini Union and the Illini Union Bookstore. 

Ted Beranek, food service administrator II and manager at the Starbucks in the Union, said the store’s peak times are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because many students are walking to and from class.

“We see the same faces each day, whether they are students, faculty, staff, or administrators. Ten minutes cannot go by that there is not someone in line that we know by name,” Beranek said. “People from surrounding buildings come in for a morning coffee, then come back for the afternoon cup. Each person has their own routine and we are part of it.”

[email protected]