I’ll have a low-fat, soy, iced, caramel mocha, with two dashes of skim, an extra straw, seven ice cubes, and whipped cream.

Sam Crankshaw

Ok, so you’re already late to school and having a bad hair day, and then you get stuck behind someone at Starbucks who orders a drink with a mile long list of ingredients and stipulations. The title of this blog is literally what I overheard someone in a Starbucks ask for one time.

While there is a Starbucks just four blocks from campus, there are far better options strewn about downtown that make great study havens and manage to ditch the 14 ingredient crowd. These shops aren’t in it for the money; they want a fun place for people to hang out, study, work, and enjoy good tea, coffee, and food.

Many students study in their rooms, the various study lounges, or the library, but I get the most work done away from campus.

One place is a hole in the wall across Third Street from the athletic fields on Limestone called Third Street Stuff and Coffee. Every square inch of the place is painted in intense colors, there is local art for sale, there is great food (my favorite is the cheese bagel with pesto cream cheese), and you’re surrounded by other Transy students and other various familiar faces. The staff is even better than the food. My order is ready before I even say it, and there’s always an interesting conversation to be had.

Another place close to campus is North Lime Coffee and Donuts, which made a big splash when it joined the NoLi (North Limestone) neighborhood, aiding in the area’s revitalization. They have an excellent staff, and their donuts change often, with flavors ranging from the classic glazed to Nutella to Lucky Charms.

My other favorite is A Cup of Common Wealth on Eastern Avenue. I’m sitting in here as I’m writing this, enjoying a delicious cup of coffee, and I just ran into nationally recognized, local musician Ben Sollee! This place is unique. Situated off of Main Street on a quiet side street, facing Thoroughbred Park, it utilizes the “Pay-it-Forward” system, and was recently written about in The Huffington Post. Customers will buy, for instance, a medium coffee, and write on a cup sleeve something like, “one medium coffee to someone who will hug every person in the store,” or “one medium coffee to someone who is wearing red pants.” If you see a cup sleeve and you meet its criteria or complete its task, you get the drink that someone else purchased, and you’re always welcome to have fun making your own rules for a drink you can buy for someone else.

You can always go the standard route and buy a coffee from Starbucks, but Transylvania is surrounded by many locally owned shops that provide great places for students to work and visit. If you haven’t already toured Transylvania, be sure to incorporate some places in the vibrant neighborhood we are lucky to be an integral part of into your trip. With all of the money you’ll save because of our free Common Application, treat yourself to a scone and a drink.

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