Brew’d Awakening, the new café in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center (MPOARC), is a point of some contention for the student body. Is it a wannabe Pub replacement inconveniently situated directly across from the glass-walled weight room? Is it the newest early-morning necessity for the dreaded 8 or, let’s face it, even 10 a.m. classes? The answer, I think, is a little bit of both.
Brew’d Awakening will not be the newest hangout place on campus. The hours (7:30 AM to 1:30 PM on weekdays, and closed on weekends unless there’s a special event) are too slim and the environment is too charged. I do not want to be sitting cozy on a chair eating a chocolate chip muffin while watching the athletically-disposed people of campus do squats any more than I would like to be the person doing squats and watching someone else enjoy a meal while I suffer. This is the environment in which the MPOARC’s newest addition is situated, an atmosphere for meals that, outside of athletes and sports games, seems impractical and uncomfortable. However, there is nonetheless a charming aspect to the new Starbucks nook on campus. Perhaps it is the familiar menu and coffee potential or perhaps simply the convenience of another food opportunity located near the majority of academic buildings. Either way, the corner outlet in the MPOARC is a comfortable morning choice that I find is becoming a habit for me.
The menu itself is not a particularly incredible one. The Daily Grind has a much larger and more refreshing supply of original smoothies and creative blends. The food selection is a limited showing of breakfast pastries but the drinks are, in typical Starbucks fashion, deliciously brewed and the perfect choice for a cold morning. If you’re not a coffee fanatic, the ARC Cafe is a choice of simple convenience rather than culinary genius, but before noon I find the former more compelling than the latter. As for the injustice of replacing the precious Pub and Daily Grind, I think our favorite campus spots will withstand the small change of a signless metal bar in a corner. Rather than replacing other dining options, Brew’d Awakening adds variety to the campus’ food and drink options, while presenting another location for a quick early-morning food and drink grab.
When testing out the new spot for the first few times, however, do not to expect the full Starbucks café experience. The word café, to me, suggests coziness. It is curling up in a corner chair and pretending to be in a Hallmark movie. Brew’d Awakening does not provide this— it never will provide this— but it does not have to. As I imagine it, there is a very happy middle ground between an uncomfortable stare down across the glass weight room wall and the quintessential Hallmark experience. Brew’d Awakening has settled into the middle of this spectrum.
No, it is not the newest campus hangout spot and no, it does not top the Daily Grind’s creative drink blends or the Pub’s comfortable and familiar atmosphere. Its limited hours, limited menu and somewhat awkward positioning by the weight room prevents this. What it does provide, however, is exactly what it advertises: a convenient new breakfast opportunity and a brilliant place to obtain quality coffee before those morning classes.