College students run on caffeine. College students in the South run on iced coffee. By now, it is too cold in most northern states to even think about drinking iced coffee. In hot and humid Columbia, South Carolina, finding the best iced coffee around is still a must.
“I like to freeze from the inside out,” first-year biological sciences student Kelly Forrester said.
Some of the university’s avid iced coffee consumers shared their favorite places to get a cold, caffeinated fix around campus.
Samantha Day said she has made it her "personal mission" to find the best iced vanilla lattes in Columbia, chronicling her exploration on her Instagram page, @icedandvanilla.
Day, a third-year marketing and human resources management student, said she enjoys the iced coffee at Blūm Coffee and Piecewise Coffee Co., but picking between the two is difficult.
“If I’m going to work, and all I’m getting is a coffee, I order it from Piecewise because they have an app,” Day said.
Piecewise is a popular choice among USC students because of its familiarity.
“I think it’s your typical iced coffee. It’s in one of those clear plastic cups ... it's like 15 dollars,” Forrester said. “But Piecewise coffee is almost thicker than everywhere else. It’s got this big, thick, mouth feel when you drink it. It’s just so good.”
Taste and texture are important factors when finding a go-to coffee, but convenience is also a huge part of picking out a cup of ice-cold joe.
“I like Blūm because it’s right across from where I live, so it’s very convenient,” said Caroline Byrd, a second-year international business and supply chain management student.
Columbia's Drip Coffee is incredibly convenient for many students because of its two locations: one on Main Street and one in Five Points. Although Byrd said she was critical of the “acidity” of their coffee, for people who prefer those kinds of flavors, Drip is a must-try.
Ease of access to coffee isn’t the only thing that has students coming back. More and more students are eschewing coffee chains in favor of locally-owned shops.
“The reason I like coffee shops better than big brands like Starbucks or Dunkin' is, Starbucks and Dunkin’, they aren’t very consistent,” Day said. “I love to be a repeat customer to places because most every time I go is usually consistent, with the local coffee shops.”
In a culture of big-brand coffee and ubiquitous coffee cups, local shops earn their keep through consistent service and the sense of community they establish.
Another spot for iced coffee is Immaculate Consumption. The atmosphere created by the creaky wood floors, worn down by students and state representatives alike, seals the deal. It’s one of those places where anything they make tastes good.
“[Immaculate Consumption] actually [was] out of the vanilla syrup when I went, which was kind of disappointing. But I posted about them on my Instagram, and one of the baristas who worked there actually responded and was like, ‘We're so sorry, we were out of vanilla syrup when you came,' but they're making it themselves now,” Day said.
Personal attention, quality ingredients and passion make local shops winners. Next time an iced coffee craving strikes, look past Starbucks and Dunkin' and try a local coffee shop.