Bringing Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Williamsburg, Virginia

Not a whole lot strays from the grain at this southern “Public Ivy,” but in the center of campus, you can find a cozy lodge-turned-coffee-shop run by the students, for the students.

An outsider may see the Daily Grind as your typical eccentric liberal arts coffee shop, but is there ever anything typical about a group of students from the College of William and Mary?

At one end of the shop, a gaggle of government majors loudly argue over the upcoming election. Across the way, the shy freshman in a maroon sweater furiously works away on her philosophy paper that’s due next class.

Professors chat with their advisees on the tattered cloth couches, a group of juniors plots how to bring a speaker from a local NGO to campus, and then in the corner, a group of liberal arts majors sit with their well-loved mugs, filled to the brim with French-roast and fresh ideas. These four wood-paneled walls hold more life than any corner of the library.

On Sundays, a local farmers’ market brings its leftovers for students to grab for their cramped dorm-style kitchens. Student bands will entertain stressed crowds with live folk tunes on occasion. Sometimes, you can even catch a townie playing the bagpipes over the dinner hour.

Yes, it’s a little weird in here. Oh, but it’s wonderful.

Scott Owen, owner of the Daily Grind,  once admitted that the Grind drew a diverse, yet eccentric, sort of crowd. But he also said that something he liked best about the Grind was how everyone felt at home in the coffee shop, no matter their background.

Full disclosure: My freshman year I was too nervous to even peek inside the Daily Grind. Take that back — I was straight up terrified of the place. Something about the easy charm and distinct character of the place made me think I could never fit in. But I’ve learned that’s where the glory lies: Anyone and everyone fits in at the Grind.

Upon walking into the Grind, you are greeted either by the fair-trade organic coffee beans brewed by the student barista in a graphic tee, or the pumpkin scones baked fresh by the senior geology major. Within two seconds you realize that there’s more to the quirkiness of the Daily Grind than the gender-neutral bathrooms and stacks of old newspapers next to the broken fireplace.

The Daily Grind represents all that’s wonderful about the College. It’s a hodge-podge of extremely diverse and passionate individuals, coexisting and collaborating at their best. The Student Assembly senators chat about event planning right next to two old friends catching up over coffee and laughing at Buzzfeed lists.

It’s not stressful in here. It’s thinking and it’s alive.

Some students have still never stepped foot inside the Grind and still have no intention of doing so. But there is still time. We all know how stressful Earl Gregg Swem Library can be. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of the library, treat yourself to the glories of fair-trade coffee in a chipped mug on a chilly weeknight and learn to love the Grind.

Ariel Cohen is a Confusion Corner columnist and always loves a good Grind-stalking marathon.


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