The staff also explains Coffee House history to reveal customers’ favorite handcrafted drinks
By ELIZABETH WOODHALL — firstname.lastname@example.org
The UC Davis Coffee House brings in a lot of customers because of its location and price point. It serves more than 7,000 customers every day and has over 250 student employees, remaining the most popular UC Davis facility, according to the Coffee House website.
The Coffee House — often referred to as the CoHo — was founded in 1968 and began as a Bohemian-style café located in East Hall, where Dutton Hall is now located. According to the Coffee House website, it was established by ASUCD with the concept of having a small eatery with high-quality food and a relaxing environment for students. The Coffee House moved locations twice, initially to the east side of the Memorial Union in 1973, then reaching its final location in 1991 at the west side of the Memorial Union.
At Swirlz Bakery, where the handcrafted drinks are served, several adjustments have been made since its opening. It has changed with the customers’ needs, said Dustie Hincks, the front-of-house manager at the Coffee House, who has been an employee for the past three years. According to Hincks, student concerns with prices, quality of coffee and sustainability are most important to Swirlz.
One of the main changes to the Swirlz CoHo menu has been introducing the “drink of the month,” and staff has created a detailed process for adding drinks as temporary menu items. Many of the “drink of the month” items are beloved by the staff, including Hincks.
“Right now, the drink of the month is our lavender latte, and that’s my personal favorite one,” Hincks said. “It’s something I’m trying to put on our menu board for, you know, a standard drink.”
After 55 years on campus, the menu has met frequent changes. Now labeled as a “sustainable operation” according to their website, the CoHo selects organic and fair-trade coffee from the local community, a decision that Darin Schluep, the director for Associate Student Dining Services, said was made regardless of cost because students requested the switch.
Schluep has been employed for 27 years and started as a student employee at the Coffee House. He said that both students and staff have a great say over the adjustments made at the CoHo, which includes the menu’s temporary items, like the “drink of the month” staying longer than the intended time.
“We have strived to adjust as needed based on the feedback that we get from the student customers, our staff and faculty customers as well as our student employees,” Schluep said. “Our baristas kind of get some input on those drinks, and […] that’s another opportunity where we give our students some kind of input on what they think would be popular and what would be good for our menu. So we always appreciate when we get positive feedback on those drinks as well.”
Schluep said among his favorite drinks are the sparkling waters, which he said are great for hydrating throughout the day. He also included the white chocolate mocha as his favorite handcrafted coffee drink from Swirlz.
“Those are kind of my guilty pleasure, so every couple of weeks, I try to have one of those,” Schluep said. “We’ve had several of our drinks of the month that have just been delicious. In fact, last month’s honey bee latte was a delicious drink.”
Lindsey Kurtz, a third-year biotechnology major, said that she goes to the CoHo a couple of times per quarter. She said that the location is convenient because she works on campus, and it is also close by when she needs coffee after class.
Kurtz said that her favorite drink does not vary often, but she is open to trying a few items that seem fun.
“I think I get the caramel macchiato the most often, just because I think it’s good hot or iced, which is nice for, like, the winter and the summer,” Kurtz said. “I have tried their tuxedo one just because I never heard of it before, and that was pretty good too. I know one time I went, and they had, like, a honey bee latte or something like that, which was drink of the month. I think those are cool. Sometimes, when I feel adventurous, I’ll try those, but I think it’s kind of just fun to see.”
Kyley Linn, a third-year biochemistry major, said that she goes to the Coffee House once a week to study but doesn’t always get a drink. She said her favorite drinks vary, but that she thinks the selection is usually cheaper and higher quality than Peet’s Coffee on campus.
“They are cheaper,” Linn said. “But also for some of the drinks, I think they are honestly better. Like the chai, I think, is better than Peet’s. Also, the cold brew I think is better. I used to get the latte a lot, but then recently, I got the creamy cold brew, and that is my favorite right now. I love that so much.”
For other students, simple drinks are the way to go. Ashwin Singh, a fourth-year philosophy and political science double major, goes to the CoHo every other day.
“Iced coffee [is my favorite drink]. It’s quick to get, and I hate sugar,” Singh said.
Sandra Rodriguez, a first-year communication major, goes to the CoHo about twice a month. She prefers Swirlz because they have more options for tea.
“I don’t remember the name of the tea, but I mixed it with lemonade, and it was really good,” Rodriguez said. “This is my go-to when I’m cold.”
Smoothies are other students’ go-to. Sheamain Khan Kakar, a second-year international relations major, goes to the CoHo once a week, specifically because of its location and smoothie selection.
“It’s close when you go to class, and it’s literally right next to you, so you don’t have to walk all the way downtown,” Kakar said. “[The] beets smoothie [is my favorite drink], but it hasn’t changed because I don’t like anything else there. I’m a smoothie person in general.”
Aly Guansing, a fourth-year molecular and microbiology major, said that she goes to the CoHo three times a week because even if it isn’t her favorite option, it is a “quick go-to place.”
“My current favorite drink is a strawberry mango smoothie,” Guansing said. “This has changed because I think in the past, like when I was about a freshman, I would go and drink their vanilla latte, [but] after drinking from other coffee places, I decided that I liked other coffee places more than the CoHo.”
Hallie Wong, a second-year communication major, said that she does not go often — once every two to three weeks — but gravitates toward the CoHo because it is the center of campus. She said her favorite drink is a “simple” latte, which has remained the same since freshman year.
Alana Eng, a fourth-year English major, said that they go to the Coffee House once every two weeks. When asked about their favorite drink from Swirlz, they said that it has remained the same.
“It will always be the iced matcha latte with oat milk,” Eng said. “I feel like it’s much smoother, it’s sweeter, it’s a nice little boost for my day and it’s at a reasonable price point. I’m really a fan. I think the CoHo already does a really good job of knowing their audience, given that the people who […] work there are already students, so they know what’s going on.”
Marisol Osorio, a third-year economics major and a cashier supervisor at the Coffee House who has been working there since February 2022, said recent changes for Swirlz have included providing more milk alternatives, like oat and almond milk, and the “drink of the month,” which she said can be seen as a collaborative project for the CoHo Swirlz staff, specifically for the baristas.
She said that her favorite drink is a caramel macchiato.
“It’s really great because I always ask for my caramel macchiato to be made just a little bit differently than, like, a typical one would be made, and not as in, like, I change the ingredients or anything,” Osorio said. “But I think the great thing about CoHo is that if you just ask, we just do it for you. So if you want an extra pump, like a syrup, or if you want more caramel on it, or if you want it stirred or shaken, [you can ask for that].”
Written by: Elizabeth Woodhall — email@example.com