***This article is not intended to cause harm or loss to either business, I'm simply sharing my opinions on two beloved java joints***
Just like peanut butter and jelly, college and coffee go together. But, at Mississippi State, there is a feud between big business and local business.
Strange Brew is a local coffee shop that has now expanded into soon to be three locations. One at its ICONIC Highway 12 location, one in Tupelo (#Brewpelo), and one soon to come downtown at the Midtown Development. I AM PUMPED for the new location. I even remember my first trip to Strange Brew. It was the first day of Student Trainer Orientation and my roommate who was a junior at the time decided I needed to be indoctrinated into the Starkville ways. Naturally, that's Strange Brew. We got cream cheese danishes and large iced Albino Squirrels. After being given our warm danishes we sat down at window bar and watched the morning traffic and chatted about our day. I remember thinking that I could get used to my new life as a college student and dreamed of long study sessions upstairs in the loft.
Starbucks, on the other hand, is a little different, however. I don't remember my first Starbucks and I don't have a bunch of super fond memories with it. We are all familiar with their endless combinations of drinks, be it the Unicorn Frappuccino or the ever so popular Pink Drink. Starbucks doesn't really strike me as anything but a place to go get anything but a consistent cup of coffee, or caramel macchiato. The special thing about Starbucks is their customer service at the Starkville location. The baristas are genuinely the sweetest people, while my coffee is getting made, the person working the drive-thru makes a genuine effort to make a human connection, asks me how my day is going, and over time they get to know you and about your life. This is great and all, but every time I'm sitting in the drive-thru I am looking at Strange Brew, and I feel so guilty for not supporting local business.
Don't get me wrong, I want to support local business. I want to support Strange Brew. I love their coffee, their atmosphere, everything about them- except their customer service. And that doesn't extend to the owners. During finals week, Strange is open 24 hours, and during the graveyard shift, you can usually find the owner working. And while he's there, the customer service is UNPARALLELED. Literally the Chick Fil A of coffee. He asks you about what you're studying for, how your doing, and genuinely seems interested in you as a person. If Strange Brew was like it is at 3 a.m. on finals week, I would be there every single day instead of Starbucks.
Instead, every time I go to Strange Brew (craving that albino squirrel) the baristas are distant and it feels like they are just so eager to get back to talking to each other. There's no warmth, no sense of community. If they were nicer and more personable, I'd be willing to pay the little bit extra to support local business and an overall rad place (who even has a super amazing ice cream store next door)
I should wrap this up by saying that Strange Brew is amazing, they bake all their goodies in the house (the king cakes are TO DIE FOR), the t-shirts are precious, their coffee mugs are both hilarious and total gems. Strange Brew is even incredible at the whole "take it home" concept with their hot chocolate mixes that range from original to Nutella or peppermint, bags of whole or ground specialty coffee, and even a deli cooler full of delicious treats and sandwiches. Their Brew It Forward program is a sweet and thoughtful way to pay for a stranger's coffee. Customer service aside, 10/10 would recommend.
I will always have a special place in my heart for Strange Brew, but until I feel actually welcome there- Starbucks it is.
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