The caffeine love triangle


The Oak Cafe, Peet’s Coffee, and Starbucks are the three coffee shops at American River College and all have different strengths and weaknesses. (Photo illustration By Felix Oliveros)

Felix Oliveros

The Oak Cafe, Peet’s Coffee, and Starbucks — these are the three options for coffee at American River College. Each place offers something unique for those who need that extra bit of assistance before sitting in class, trying not to fall asleep.

First is the culinary student-run Oak Cafe. The menu is minimal, but offers essentials such as brewed coffee, lattes, mochas, and caramel macchiatos; most of these are offered iced as well. The cafe also offers three different teas, hot chocolate, banana nut bread, breakfast biscuits, along with new foods that are introduced regularly.

A standard 12-ounce coffee (small) will cost customers $2 with a wide variety of food to accompany their source of caffeine.

While the Oak Cafe is not as bombarded with customers as Starbucks, marketing major Samantha Martinez says she found her way to the Oak Cafe through word of mouth, and after trying it a couple of times, plans on returning.

“[The] Oak Cafe has more variety of pastries and food, and they have something different every time,” Martinez says. “Every pastry they do, they do a really good job at, and it’s very reasonably priced.”

As far as drinks, the Oak Cafe does not offer a wide variety, so for people looking for a lot of options, this is not the place. This is not the case when it comes to the food, however. The bakery offers around the same amount of food, if not more than Starbucks, but with a fresher approach.

The hours of operation for the Oak Cafe are Wednesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Across campus from the Oak Cafe by the Portable Village is another option for coffee, Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

At Peet’s Coffee a 12-ounce (small) brewed coffee costs $2.10. Compared to the Oak Cafe, the menu widens up a bit and customers have more options for drinks. The coffee and tea essentials are the same for the most part, however customers have the option of blended drinks.

Derek McCoy, American Sign Language interpreting major, is someone who has tried other options, but has made Peet’s Coffee his first and favorite option.

“I think there’s too much hype around Starbucks in general, I don’t want to wait longer than 20 minutes for coffee,” McCoy says. “I just like how quiet it is here versus there. … [The] service is pretty good, I really like the coffee too.”

Food, on the other hand, suffers at Peet’s Coffee. The food can be considered more in the lane of snacks, and is not necessarily the best option if you’re looking for a filling meal. The food items include muffins, cookies, brownies, fruit, instant noodles, and ham and turkey sandwiches.

Peet’s Coffee usually only has one employee running the shop. This is a flaw, child development major Gustavo Asis has noticed.

“With one worker it’s kind of time-consuming for students to wait until class starts,” Asis says.

If Peet’s Coffee sounds like a good option, they’re open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and closed on Fridays.

Lastly, Starbucks, located in the Student Center, serves as the busiest coffee shop on campus.

Here a 12-ounce (small) brewed coffee is going to cost $2.15, making it the most expensive as far as the most simple option for coffee goes.

Most people on campus have probably noticed the consistently long line that Starbucks draws throughout the week. So if time is short, and class is in a few minutes, this is probably the last place to consider.

When it comes to variety of drinks however, Starbucks has the most choices out of the three shops on campus. They offer standard coffee, as well as a variety of espresso drinks, many different types of teas, refreshers, and frappuccinos. On top of this, new drinks are introduced every season.

For food, the number of options is vast, and ranges from different breakfast sandwiches, to bagels and pastries.

Annabel Su, a biotechnology major, sticks to Starbucks because she’s familiar with the coffee chain.

“I been ordering from Starbucks my whole life,” Su says. “… I just know Starbucks better.”

While Starbucks also gets a bad reputation for the long wait times, Su also gives them the benefit of the doubt.

“They’re pretty fast considering how many people order from them, I would say that they’re doing a pretty good job,” Su says. “Also they’re super nice and a lot of Starbucks baristas have to be really nice because people are so rude to Starbucks baristas.”

For those considering Starbucks, they have the most hours of operation. They are open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Every shop has its attractions, and every student can find something that draws them in and keeps them returning. Whether it’s the Oak Cafe’s variety of food, Peet’s customer service, or Starbucks’ wide range of drinks, there is something for everyone on campus.