Have Your Coffee and Eat It Too

You’ve heard the rumors. Everyone in college is totally hooked. They can’t live without it. They drink and drink just to keep going. Drink coffee that is. If the stuff hasn’t found a permanent home in your routine right now, there’s a good chance long class days and late nights of studying and recreation alike will drive you to the warm embrace of the all powerful bean sooner or later.

Unfortunately for most, the act of caffeination is distressingly utilitarian. Whether it’s lousy dark roast that’s been sitting in the same canister for 4 hours or an espresso drink that’s been cream and sugared beyond recognition, there’s a whole beautiful world of coffee most are missing.

It’s long been my philosophy that if you’re looking for a good time in Athens, you’re either eating or drinking. When it comes to coffee options, you can kind of do both! That’s right; Athens is full of eateries that have wonderful coffee confections that can give you that much needed buzz in style.

For the less intrepid, The Affogato from Whit’s Frozen Custard is the perfect toe tester into the waters of caffeinated confections. The treat features a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of Whit’s smooth vanilla custard. The temperature difference highlights the best parts of both. The warm richness of dark espresso marries wonderfully with the lightness of the custard. It’s simple enough to be scarfed down in a pinch or savored as an after lunch pick-me-up and the best part is, if it melts before you’re finished, it basically just becomes a mocha milkshake.

For the coffee committed, there are few power-packed snacks better than Java Drops at Donkey Coffee. At the center of each of these rich dark chocolate beads is a whole roasted espresso bean. Each candy is a textured morsel. The chocolate coating is dense and soft before the satisfying crunch of the crisp beans. A bag of them is a good snack for incremental energy throughout the day, though there is a danger in devouring the whole bag in one sitting which will probably leave you with the jitters for the rest of the day.

Finally, for the bravest of brave, without any fear in their hearts, there is the coffee bar from the Petru Chocolate Truck. The food truck that often occupies sidewalk space between Schoonover Center and College Green specializes in all things decadent. The coffee bar at first looks like any unassuming chocolate bar, although it is actually a blend of pure Ridge Runner ground coffee pressed with cocoa butter. The result is a potent treat with a hint of smoothness that compliments the intense granola-like grit of the grounds.

This one is potent. I ate half of one bar and was afraid I would vibrate out of my body. To cut down on the intensity, I also paired it with a lemon white chocolate bar also sold by Petru. The mix felt a lot more balanced, the light softness of the white chocolate reigning in the darkness of the coffee bar.

These are by no means the only unique treats Athens has to offer but they are a good start for anyone trying to get out of the sterile routine of mud from the dining halls or cafes. Athens is a place that rewards exploration. There’s always a new spot to find and a new treat to eat, you just have to go looking for it.

In Their Own Words: Attending a Conversation on The Black Press

“A lot of newspapers are failing because they have a lot of old white men sitting around the table.”

This was the musing posited by editor for the Columbus African American News Journal Ray Miller at Monday night’s panel “A Conversation: The Black Press.” No less than a day after Beyoncé gave a powerful performance at the biggest sporting event in the nation, largely centered around her own powerful blackness, the Schoonover lecture hall filled up to hear a panel talk about the history of the black press and how its role has changed, and most importantly why it’s important now more than ever.

It’s all about perspective, said Brenda Andrews, publisher of The New Journal and Guide, a black newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Would the students of Ohio University want the students of Norfolk State to write [their] story?” asked Andrews. It is a long held journalistic credo that reporters must be involved in the community they cover in order to properly do their job and the Black Press is a prime example of this. In the early 1900s, black people were not seen in any papers; their births, marriages, accolades, nor even deaths were seen in the papers that claimed to cover their regions. In an effort to subvert and tell their own stories, these communities mobilized their own newspapers.

Now these black newspapers remain to inform on the issues that affect them specifically, looking at issues in a way primarily white papers might overlook. Andrews noted the coverage of recent heroin epidemics and how their coverage was mainly spun to sympathize with white women in many media publications. Andrews noted how many did not have the same sympathetic voice when speaking of other drug epidemics such as crack cocaine, commonly related to black addicts.

Schoonover 145 was nearly at capacity for Monday night's panel on the power of the black press.
Schoonover 145 was nearly at capacity for Monday night’s panel on the power of the black press.

Miller noted another story, citing OSU’s 3,000 black students in their student body’s 60,000 student total, a number that is disproportionately small when considering Ohio’s 12 percent black population. White-dominated newspapers are unlikely to see this problem, much less report it because they do not live in the experience of a black person, an issue in itself.

To that effect, we return to Miller’s initial statement. While the black press will always be valuable as a platform to tell the unique stories of black people, white media as a whole must do better at integrating. Not only to staff themselves with people of color but to listen to their stories and experiences.

A Little Sunday Night Busking

Buried In The Bins

The first time I ever set foot in Haffa’s Records was my senior year of high school on my first visit to Athens. It was the first Athens adventure I embarked on alone, peeling myself away from my parents and the student guide that had showed us the all bright and shiny parts of campus. Walking in, I could see shafts of dust rolling in the golden late afternoon light.

A little summertime sandwich board to help reel in passersby.
A little summertime sandwich board to help reel in passersby.

I shuffled to the back of the store to be greeted by an endless sea of records. Albums I cherished, that I had so rarely seen in more than just a thumbnail on my iPod Classic were all tucked away neatly, tangible and singularly captivating. I saw so many favorites but also an endless amount of unrecognized titles, a first for me. It felt like looking through your friend’s collection. Seeing where your tastes intersected but then he got really into early funeral metal and you split off once again. It was exciting and I made a point to pick records that weren’t easy, that would challenge me like I knew this new place eventually would.

Andrew Lampela, the guardian of all Haffa’s wares was posted behind the counter, listening to something fast and angry, or maybe more dirgy and brooding. I’ve since learned that on days like this, Andrew will probably be brief, pissed off about some lousy reseller who’s been pestering him or maybe a lackluster shipment he just got in.

I placed my selections on the counter and searched for something to say but nothing seemed cool or interesting enough. I saw a few jars of who-knows-what alcohol sitting on the counter. Oh man, how cool would it be to work here?

“Hey, I’m going to be going to school here in the fall. Would you guys be hiring?” I asked meekly.

Andrew let out an easy chuckle as he bagged my records up, handing them to me, “Yeah, not unless one of us dies.”

Since then, it’s been three years of stops in between classes, half-heartedly digging through new arrivals while talking about why cocaine-era Bowie is such a bummer or summer afternoons spent digging into the darkest corners, bargaining that a great find is just one more crate over.

Haffa’s possesses a timelessness, imposing no boundaries on its explorers, who develop their own technique, a ritual for shuffling through. Check out a row of used movies, then see what’s in the new letter “C” vinyl bin, check for that one record that can never ever ever be found but has to be looked for on principle. Looking for that perfect gem, even if maybe you’re already in it.