Section: Opinion

Weekly Column: The expensive, the burnt and the bookstore: reviewing campus coffee

It’s only right to kick off this column with introductions. My name is Dorothy, and I’m a first year student from Southern California. I bring with me from SoCal not only my elitist coastal platitudes and an overuse of the word “like,” but also an outsider’s perspective on Kenyon and an insider’s perspective on a certain hot topic: coffee.

One of the first things I realized when I relocated to Gambier was that I would need to find a new way to satisfy my caffeine craving. I’ve been pampered by luxurious California brews and an abundance of milk alternatives, but I must adapt and overcome, so I made it my mission to find the best coffee for the best price.

I compared the three go-to Kenyon coffees: Wiggin Street Coffee, the bookstore and Peirce Dining Hall. For the sake of fairness, I got the same drink at each location: a hot black coffee. This simple order, sweetened with a single packet of sweetener (the pink one because it’s the most fun), allowed me to assess the quality of the default drink, the baseline upon which all other coffees are made.

First up, the cheapest option: Peirce. Not only is Peirce coffee free, but it earns convenience points for being right next to the servery, allowing students to caffeinate with ease and efficiency. But as anyone can tell you, the quality is not-so-hot. Peirce coffee has a distinct flatness to it that no amount of additives can remedy, and it always tastes slightly burnt.

But Peirce’s biggest issue is the roasts it offers. There are three: light, medium and dark. The medium roast is decaf, meaning that if students want to be energized, they have to choose between one extreme or the other. If the light roast is too mild for you and the dark roast is too intense, you’re simply out of luck. A happy medium is out of the question, but hey, at least you won’t fall asleep in class!

Next up is coffee from the bookstore. Here, you can get a small coffee for $1.50 and a large for $2.00. At face value, these are pretty reasonable prices (and an absolute steal for anyone used to coastal price gouging). Taste-wise, the coffee isn’t great, but it’s better than Peirce. I wish it was a little nuttier, but it is pleasantly smooth. In my view, paying a few extra dollars to escape the burnt aftertaste of Peirce is a worthwhile investment every now and then.

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Is the infamous Wiggin Street Coffee worth its price? Yes and no. If you like fancy drinks, if the thought of caramel swirls and lavender infusions makes your mouth water, then dropping several dollars on one of these beverages is the way to go. But I’m assessing black coffee. A plain drip-brewed coffee comes in four roast options (house, light, dark, decaf), and the smallest size is $2.20. This is already more expensive than a large from the bookstore, and the tastes are indistinguishable. If you want a simple black coffee, you’re wasting your money.

So what’s my final verdict? For the sake of my bank account, I’m going to stick to Peirce for the most part. It’s not great, but it’s convenient and free, and that’s good enough for me. But if I’m really feeling decadent, I might drop by Wiggins Street for a Salty Scotsman.

Dorothy Yaqub ’26 is a columnist for the Collegian. She has not declared a major and is from Santa Barbara. Calif. She can be reached at


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