Campus offers plenty of coffee resources

Credit: Adelaide Cole | Art Editor Credit: Adelaide Cole | Art Editor

Upon entering Carnegie Mellon University, students tend to become hopelessly reliant on (i.e. addicted to) caffeine. Whether it is from an all-night study session or a party, a strong cup of coffee will be everyone’s best friend the following morning. Especially during your first year, knowing where to get the best coffee at the best price will prove essential.

Carnegie Mellon offers 11 coffee venues: 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.

However, other venues offer variety from those standard Starbucks products. The Underground in Morewood Gardens, Skibo Café in the University Center, and Zebra Lounge in the College of Fine Arts building are all managed by Gullifty’s Restaurant.

Tazza D’Oro at the R-Bar Café in the Gates Center is managed by the local company Tazza D’Oro. It offers a different specialty brew every day, each with its own flavor and geographic origin. Tazza D’Oro uses ingredients from local and independent farms and vendors for all its beverages and food.

La Prima Espresso is an outside company that operates its own cart near the fifth-floor entrance of Wean Hall. The venue offers students a “coffee of the month” at its cart. “I’m going to say La Prima and Seattle’s Best [from the University Center] are my favorites,” said Shilpa Balaji, a junior computer science major. “Seattle’s Best, just because I used to drink it at home all the time. 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.” In comparison, Balaji said, “the Guatemalan blend at Skibo is generally extremely watered down, which makes me not generally opt for it.”

“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 junior computer science major.
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.

Students should also 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 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. This can bite into students’ time between classes and affect their busy schedules.

To find your perfect and convenient coffee location, figure out your schedule and specific tastes. These will be the most important factors when differentiating among Carnegie Mellon’s many venues.