789 Wildcat Way, Brea, CA 92620
est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

Kick the Corporate Caffeine

The convenience of Starbucks is no match for the quality and ambiance of Brea’s independent cafes.
Jennifer Kim

A common sight most mornings is BOHS students walking through the campus’s front gates toting plastic cups of Starbucks while heading to the attendance office to pick up tardy passes, risking detention for an over-priced, low-quality beverage from a boring, overrated company. 

Another familiar sight: hordes of students holding mermaid-embossed cups in the quad rather than branded cups from local, independent cafes.

It’s a confusing phenomena because local coffee shops — with more quality control, more attentive baristas, unique coffee choices, and livelier environments — are a much better option for that caffeine fix or as a study base than chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean.

Too often, students opt for Starbucks when local cafes in Brea and neighboring Fullerton are accessible and provide much more unique environments for studying or gathering with friends. These coffeehouses are vibrant places that stimulate our local economy and encourage community-gathering, versus the personality-less multi-billion dollar corporate entities.

Why frequent and study in the crowded and characterless interior of a Starbucks when the brightly-lit, upcycled shipping container that houses Fullerton’s PLAY Coffee, and the rustic-modern, warm environment of Birch Street’s Enchanted Coffee, sit just minutes away?

Local cafes, from top left to bottom right: Reborn Coffee (3373 E. Imperial Hwy.), Melted Vinyl Coffee (580 S. Brea Blvd.), Communitea Coffee (1015 E. Imperial Hwy.), and Enchanted Coffee (260 W. Birch St.). (Audrey Im)

Independent cafes have personality and quirks, appealing to varied tastes. For example, on Brea Boulevard, Melted Vinyl Coffee boasts stacks of vinyl records and posters — of Pierce the Veil, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance — plastered on their brick walls to pay homage to the emo subculture of the 2000s and 2010s. Reborn, located next to Whole Foods on Imperial Highway, has an inviting minimalist setting to help students zero-in on school work. Brea’s Communitea, Smoking Tiger, and Fullerton’s MADE Coffee are a spectrum of personalities and varieties, refreshing contrasts to the pervasive monotony of Starbucks which seemingly copy-and-pastes itself to every neighborhood in the world.

The menus of local cafes are another perk, with more care placed into the drink-making process and a more varied and fresher food options than the coffee behemoths. Freshly made sandwiches and pastries are clearly a better options than the prepackaged, stale, and preservative-packed croissants, sandwiches, and pastries on Starbucks’s menu. Why settle for a Starbucks barista ripping open the plastic wrap of a cheese danish when there are freshly and locally baked treats just blocks away? 

Many independent cafes — like Enchanted and PLAY — use in-house roasted or small-batch beans from respected roasters. This curated process makes sure that only top-grade coffee is used in drinks, a stark difference from Starbucks’ process of roasting beans in massive batches, which degrades the taste and strength of their beverages. for Starbucks, its volume and profit that matter most, not quality, not the customers.

Starbucks does have some merits, like the rewards system (everyone loves free drinks, after all) and accessibility (there’s a Starbucks barely a mile from campus). It’s easy to default to the ever-present coffee staple because of these features; but in the case of coffee and food, the easiest option is clearly far from the best.

Convenience and an occasional free cold brew are not more important than the value of quality drinks. It’s not okay to spend over $5 on a drink and receive a burnt, acrid espresso in return. If you plan to pay hard-earned money for a 7 a.m. caffeine kick, you should spend it where you’re offered specialized drinks from a vibrant community cafe, rather than from a bland mega-corporation.

If you have the money and time to buy from the corporation shadowing every street corner, try a local cafe instead. Buying local offers a chance to try well-crafted, specialty drinks in an aesthetically pleasing communal space that actually values your dollar and presence. We need to support these neighborhood gems over the tasteless conglomerates, for the benefit of both our tastebuds and our community.

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About the Contributors
Sofia Rodriguez
Sofia Rodriguez, Culture Editor
Sofia Rodriguez, sophomore, is enthusiastic about her first year on staff as Culture Editor of the Wildcat. In addition to her involvement in journalism, Sofia plans to become an active student leader on campus by joining HOSA, Book Club, and NHS. Off campus, Sofia has dedicated her time to other philanthropic causes, including joining and serving in the National Charity League. When Sofia is not busy writing, she delves into fiction and poetry writing. An avid music lover, Sofia also collects vinyl and attends live concerts. 
Audrey Im
Audrey Im, Staff Writer
Audrey Im, freshman, is a member of Dance Production, the social media manager for the club Dream Catchers, and a staff writer for the Wildcat. In her free time, Audrey loves to shop, hang out with friends, and catch up on the newest episode of The Summer I Turned Pretty. She aspires to be a neurologist.
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