Opinion: We should have small coffee shops on campus

File Photo: Shreyas Saboo / The Daily Gamecock

Local coffee shops, not Starbucks, should be stationed around campus, because they are more accessible for student employment, have the freedom to experiment to make a better cup of coffee and allow students more options for unique experiences. 

Local coffee shops, like Cool Beans, are able to hire students more efficiently than the Starbucks on campus. Half of Cool Beans employees are students. Some of the students who started working during their undergraduate years even stayed on after graduation. While larger coffee shops like Starbucks do employ students, of the job openings listed online, students are only able to apply for half of those available at Starbucks rather than being considered eligible for all of them.

Coffee shops that aren’t attached to a corporation can also do things to help out students outside of offering accessible employment. For instance, Cool Beans allows students to present and sell their art inside the store. On top of this, the coffee shop offers percent nights for student organizations and allows students to hang up posters and flyers for events inside the store. 

Corporations like Starbucks have more rules for hanging up flyers, and don't offer fundraising opportunities or feature local artists. These strict rules also make it difficult for individual franchise owners to make exceptions for causes they deem worthy. 

Smaller coffee shops can also experiment and use other methods for brewing coffee that a corporation like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts may choose to avoid since it may involve a longer and “less efficient” process. Drip Coffee, located in Five Points and on Main Street, uses a pour-over method for slow brewing coffee which, according to the Daily Meal, results in a more flavorful and aromatic cup of coffee since the water has time to fully soak up the flavor of the grounds.

Having small businesses on campus increases students' ability to get to know their bosses and leverage their employment for benefits that, for students who work for large corporations, would be difficult to earn if not impossible. For instance, business students could shadow their bosses and learn about the administrative side of running a small restaurant or coffee shop at the top levels much more easily than a student working at Starbucks could due to the ownership structure of the corporation. 

The food and baked goods offered at smaller coffee shops are also better than those offered at Starbucks. At Starbucks, the workers heat up pre-made and pre-packaged food, causing the overall quality to really suffer. By contrast, at Cool Beans and Drip you can watch the workers make your food while you wait for your coffee and meal. 

Starbucks is great for good coffee, don’t get me wrong. But the stores cannot be as responsive to the student body it serves due to its corporate rules to maintain consistency across its stores. USC doesn’t need this consistency, though — allowing smaller coffee shops to blossom on campus will add to the school's culture and allow students more opportunities with fewer rules and restrictions. USC should make the switch, not just for better coffee, but for better community.

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