The battle of the beans

Whether it’s hot, iced, loaded with sugar or decaffeinated, coffee is a popular drink among students at UVM, and everyone has a preference for where to purchase the cup that gets them through the day.Several factors go in to choosing a place to get coffee.  The taste of the actual coffee, along with the location, atmosphere and convenience of the café, must be taken into account.But where exactly is the best place to get a cup of coffee, both on and off campus? Six of the main cafés where students buy their coffee are Henderson’s Café and the Cyber Café, which are both on campus; and Speeder and Earl’s, Uncommon Grounds, Muddy Waters and the Radio Bean, which are off campus.When rushing to class, students typically need to grab a coffee as quickly as possible, and Henderson’s and the Cyber Café provide this type of convenience.At Henderson’s, the coffee comes straight from the Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea Company in Waterbury, which is all fair trade and organic, Henderson’s manager Gordon Sadler said.Sadler also said that all of their take-away containers are eco-friendly and compostable. “Plus, we compost all the coffee grounds in the shop,” he said.Henderson’s is situated on the third floor of the Davis Center so that it faces Main Street. “It’s a good place to come and get work done,” sophomore Maddy Traynor said. “It feels like you’re not in school.”On the other hand, the Cyber Café is located right inside the Bailey/Howe Library and serves exclusively Speeder and Earl’s coffee, which supervisor Deb Ploof said she orders from the roasters on Pine Street weekly.The Café offers an organic fair trade coffee, along with the “Speeder’s Blend,” which contains more caffeine than average coffee and is a favorite among students, Ploof said.”I really like the coffee at the Cyber Café because they always have a fair trade option and I feel really good drinking it,” freshman Chris Keeler said.Other students, such as junior Matt Sleeman, only spend time in the Cyber Café due to its location and atmosphere. “I don’t particularly like the coffee, but I go there because it’s right in the library,” he said.Downtown on Church Street, there is an actual Speeder and Earl’s coffee shop that boasts lime green walls and self-serve coffee, which ensures freshness and efficiency, employee and junior Kate Resch said. “We welcome all kinds of people here and our coffee is some of the best around,” she said. UVM graduate Pete Dunbar agreed.”Speeder and Earl’s is really good quality coffee, and you can even buy whole beans in large quantities right in the shop,” he said.Further up Church Street, Uncommon Grounds roasts beans right in the shop daily, according to the Uncommon Grounds guidebook.  Additionally, most of the coffee comes directly from Hacienda La Minita in Costa Rica, where it is sustainably grown. There are also several varieties of both regular and decaf to choose from on their menu each day.”The smell that takes over you when you walk in [Uncommon Grounds] is very comforting,”  junior Jonna Jermyn said.”In my opinion, they have one of the richest flavors of coffee you can get in Burlington,” she said.Muddy Waters sits on Main Street and provides many with a space to do work or relax.  The lighting is dim, the music is soft and the seating is plentiful. “It’s the perfect place to do homework,” sophomore Maija Lawrence said, “except for the fact that there’s no internet.””I love Muddy Waters,” senior Jessica Brooker said. “It has really good coffee … way better than any coffee I can get in New York.”Radio Bean Coffeehouse, an artsy café on N. Winooski Avenue, is unique from the others in that it stays open late each night and usually has live performances by musicians and writers, according to Amy Burke, a Bean employee.The coffee there is also exclusively French-pressed, setting it apart from other coffee shops in Burlington, Burke said. “Radio Bean is probably my favorite place to get coffee,” junior Arthur Zahor said. “It’s exciting with all the live music, and the coffee is great because of how they make it.””We have a really beautiful and creative environment here,” Burke said. “You can come here both to socialize and to spend time by yourself.”So, the question still remains, where should you go to find a great cup of coffee?  In the end, it all comes down to taste and convenience.All six shops encourage the habit of bringing reusable mugs by charging less for refills in such containers, and each offers seating to those who want to stick around to enjoy their hot, or cold, beverage of choice. The only way to choose a favorite is to experiment at each café and decide which has the cup that suits you best.