Coffee Culture at Penn and Beyond


Coffee Culture at Penn and Beyond

What's your favorite coffee destination on campus?

I love coffee. That may be one of the first things you notice about me: cell phone in one hand, coffee cup in the other. My favorite quote is by Mike Ditka in the movie, Kicking and Screaming, who says “Coffee is the lifeblood that drives the dreams of champions,” while force-feeding coffee to Will Ferrell’s character.   

One thing I’ve learned since coming to Penn is that coffee is as much a study aid as it is a fashion statement. Your choice of coffeehouse can be almost as important as your shoes–are you carrying Starbucks or Saxby’s? People are so into their coffee that there are even multiple quizzes and articles that tell you which Penn coffeehouse you are. 

Images courtesy of CNBC
Images courtesy of Avril 50

Are you holding the famous white cup with the green mermaid logo? Not only do you most likely prefer some type of sugary drink rather than black coffee, you also prioritize speed and convenience–neither of which are bad things to prioritize on a campus as busy as Penn.

Or what about the nondescript white paper cups with the “eco-friendly” sleeve? You’ve discovered the magic that is Avril 50, tucked away on Sansom Street between Baby Blue’s BBQ and the White Dog Cafe. Avril 50 has, in my opinion, the best blends of coffee I have ever tasted. However, the downsides are that the location is a bit inconvenient unless you are headed to the Engineering Quad or DRL, and purchases under $10 must be made in cash.

My all-time favorite, however, is Saxby’s. No other coffeeshop matches Saxby’s Cold Brew, which is my drink of choice on all days and seasons of the year. You can learn a lot about a person based on their coffee choices, but coffee can also mean so much more.

Images courtesy of Tanya Taylor and La Colombe

Even in mainstream culture, coffee cups were a fashion accessory this past New York Fashion Week. Tanya Taylor, a womenswear designer in New York, teamed up with La Colombe to create a coffee sleeve sold for a limited time, and a portion of the proceeds went to the Haiti Coffee Academy.  Not only is coffee a fashion accessory, but it can also be used for social causes. Could we do the same on Penn’s campus, too? Perhaps if we customized Williams Cafe’s coffee sleeves, we could draw attention to particular pertinent issues.


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