Athens’ favorite bakery

 

Village Bakery and Cafe

Nestled back on the corner of Alexander and West State Street,  with only a few parking spots, The Village Bakery and Cafe can be easy to miss if you’re not looking, but locals and students alike know this place very well.

While I think most places in Athens are unique, the Village Bakery and Cafe, is unlike any other place in our community, making it so loved and known to the community. Upon walking into the cafe, you’re greeted with an overwhelming smell of fresh bread, bright colors, and swarms of people that equal out to be much larger than the amount of parking. That’s how I know this is a favorite place-when you can barely find place to sit down. I’ve spent a lot of time here before, but when visiting to write this piece, I tried extra hard to soak up everything the bakery has to offer.

Bulletin boards fill the wall with local events, slogans, photos and local advertisements. One catches my eye that just says, “Socialism”, next to one from a student looking for work walking dogs. That’s what makes this place what it is: the mix of the unique community together in one place.

I come here for the food, like many others. With a limited amount of quick vegetarian and vegan options on Court Street, I come here for quick veggie frittatas, salads and pastries that I know will be fresh. To be as accurate and honest as possible for this article, I made sure I ordered a fair spread of food on this particular trip. I order the Karma, made with in-house bread, pesto and then topped with veggies. I also ordered their daily soup special, Tofu Curry and just to be safe, a raw, vegan Coconut and Blueberry ball, along with a cup of coffee, that’s also roasted locally in Athens.

Raw Coconut Blueberry balls
Tofu Curry soup
The Karma

The Village Bakery pride’s itself on creating their unique food by using local products and vendors, as well as growing their own food. Right now they are using products from over 15 vendors across the state of Ohio, and bring in new vendors each year to continue to grow. They also have their vendors locations’ painted on their walls.

Local, Christina Matzin says that not only is the food here good, but the “organization is run on some pretty respectable values”, making this one of her favorite spots in town.

Solar, wind, and geothermal are a few types sustainable energy sources that work behind the scenes to keep this bakery running. To accompany the bright, mismatching dishes, the walls are filled with hand painted slogans. “GeoThermal” is one that sits high above the pastry case, painted right on the air duct; representing the bakery’s efforts and pride in creating a place that’s not only welcoming, but also kind to the environment.

 

 

The Village Bakery’s tie to the community doesn’t stop at pastries and clean energy though. Their local grocery and fair trade gift section is another way they help to pull the community together, and help the local economy. Here, you can find a selection of wines from local vineyards, a small freezer of local grocery items and handmade gifts, jellies, syrups and more scattered around the bakery.

 

Owners, Christine and Bob took their passion for community and their success at the Village Bakery and opened up a second cafe on the other side of town. Just down the road from Larry’s Dawg House on Union St., the Catalyst Cafe, is a short bike ride from campus, and overlooks the Hocking River. The cafe opened less than 10 years ago to continue to bring delicious local products to the Athens community.

The two-story cafe offers a view of Athens like you can’t find anywhere else. Here you can find a few of the breakfast pastries offered at the Village Bakery, but at Catalyst. the main focus is on their locally roasted coffee, Italian Sodas, and smoothies. 

I opted for an Italian Creme Soda made with vanilla and almond, and a chocolate meringue cookie on my first trip to the Catalyst Cafe.

 

Student Phil Burdyn says he comes to the cafe to study, but his favorite part about the set of cafe’s “is their contribution to the local economy and the environment.”

Caffeinating with a conscience at Donkey

Athens locals and Ohio University students alike turn to Donkey Coffee and Espresso to not only get into a caffeinated overdrive, but also for a strong sense of a diverse community in Appalachia’s favorite college town.

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.

A spoon full of espresso makes the stress go down

When people think of Ohio University, the first thing that comes to mind may be house parties, Court Street or famous street names that host parties during the spring. When I think of OU, I think of late nights at the coffee shops scattered around campus, warm environments and wonderful memories that I created with my closest friends and boyfriend.

South Side Espresso Bar is my home away from home. It’s where I can get away from my residence hall and be by myself; it’s there where I don’t have to worry about anyone other than myself. It may seem silly, but as a Resident Assistant to an all freshman residence hall, having that little break for just myself is something I don’t get that often. I’m in class all day, I come home and residents who want my attention immediately bombard me. My room is not my sanctuary; a small café in Nelson is where I find my solitude.

After a long, treacherous day in classes, I walk to Nelson and pick a cushioned seat near the fire. It’s comforting, South Side: the quiet environment, engaging barista and warm atmosphere. I’m able to spread my things out across a tabletop and pull out my laptop while drinking a

hot cup of whatever I felt like drinking that day. There is a reason why this place is my favorite place in Athens; no one ever comes there, and if they do, it’s to work on homework or relax with friends.

My delicious drink of choice: hot chocolate. The barista takes the time to make my drink exactly how I like it.
My delicious drink of choice: hot chocolate. The barista takes the time to make my drink exactly how I like it.

With Front Room in Baker Center, South Side doesn’t get the crowed it should. South Side doesn’t host ‘Open Mic. Nights’ or own a piano that anyone can play whenever. Maybe that’s why I like South Side so much. It isn’t overcrowded; there is always a seat open for the busy goer. That being said, I can always find a place to work with my friends or talk with my boyfriend without the need to pull chairs around or shout across the table. It’s here where I can relax with the ones I care about and be myself; I can find myself in this café better than any other coffee shop or random bar on campus.

South Side may be out of the way, but that’s what makes it the best place to be alone and make those rare memories people don’t usually think of when they come to Athens. This place is what get’s me through the day and I can always rely on it to calm me down after a stressful day of college. It may seem weird, a college student loving a café, but it’s what makes me function as a student and as a Resident Assistant. I make the grades, focus on myself and I’m able to prepare myself for whatever life throws at me next.