Among a crowded field of Starbucks locations, some students opt for local options

There are many local coffee shops around the Tempe campus, though most lack the convenience of Starbucks

For their daily caffeine fix before their 8 a.m. classes, students in a hurry may find Starbucks to be an adequate choice. But more and more coffee drinkers are opting for "gourmet" coffee, and a large contingent of that growth comes from young coffee aficionados, who may choose smaller, independent cafes. 

Autumn McClintock, a music therapy graduate and a barista at King Coffee, said the fact that  Starbucks remains popular despite the many other options is reflective of the student culture at ASU.

"Everybody is going a mile a minute, so it's almost second nature just to go to Starbucks because it's fast and easy, and you don't really have to think about it," McClintock said. 

She said there also really isn't a competitive nature or incentive when it comes to local coffee shops like the one she works at. She said King Coffee's focus is primarily on the customer experience and the service provided. 

"I think going to a local coffee shop is a culture in and of itself," McClintock said. "It feels very communal because we have so many regulars that come in here. It's nice to go to a coffee shop where people know you and remember your order and the faces are consistent." 

McClintock said the atmosphere and culture at local coffee shops are incomparable to Starbucks, with many independent shops posting local art and music in and around their stores. 

"It's a great way to engage with your community. At King Coffee we have so (much) art posted by art students at ASU and flyers for upcoming concerts," McClintock said.

Besides King Coffee, McClintock said students should check out other local coffee shops near ASU such as Infusion and Cartel

Mikayla Strange, a secondary education sophomore, said she prefers local coffee shops for the experience and out of a desire to support local businesses. 

"Local shops have a certain charm about them that corporations like Starbucks don't," Strange said. "Everything feels a bit too instant that you don't really get an experience like the ones at a local shop."

Strange said her favorite local shop is Cupz on College Avenue because it is family owned, and offers a great selection of coffee and baked goods.

Although some students appreciate the local coffee shop culture, many still appreciate Starbucks as a convenient stop on campus between their classes.

A Twitter poll on March 9 found that a majority of ASU students still prefer Starbucks for their daily supply of coffee.

Haley Barraza, a justice studies freshman, said she appreciates the many Starbucks locations on campus, primarily because of how accessible they are to the student body.

"What makes Starbucks so unique is their quickness and ability to get through orders as soon as possible because many students are on the go and hurrying to get to class," Barraza said.

Despite this, Barraza said she can see why many students would prefer to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee at an independent coffee shop. 

"Most coffee places have a relaxing vibe to it, unlike Starbucks," Barraza said. "Starbucks is often busy and overcrowded and hard to find a place to settle down and enjoy your drink."

Check out the website Arizona Coffee for more local shops near the Tempe campus.

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