It’s a place that needs no explanation, no introduction. But it’s such a big part of campus life we that we simply owed it to the place to write this feature. There isn’t a St. Mary’s student who hasn’t depended on this week’s institution at one time or another. Whether it’s your coffee hookup, your late night snack destination, your social hangout or your musical venue, you can’t go your four years here without coming into contact with the Daily Grind.
As our only on-campus convenience store/smoothie shop/cafe, the Grind is perpetually bussling with customers, passersby, and people relaxing at the coffee bar or tables. Students can walk the two aisle store picking out candy, frozen foods, packaged snacks and canned food, as well as a few personal hygiene products. A full array of coffees, teas and hot chocolate are available at the cash register, including the ever-creative monthly specials, celebrating annual hallmarks like Halloween or Valentine’s Day with pumpkin spice and strawberry flavored coffee treats. When the snow finally starts to melt and spring returns to St. Mary’s, you can enjoy one of the many varieties of Freshën’s fruit or vegetable smoothies at the outdoor seating. (Now available is a smoothie featuring 14 kinds of raw greens called ‘Oh Kale!’) And of course, every food product at the Grind can be purchased with student flex dollars.
All of this most students will already know about the Grind. But the Grind also strives to be reflective of the St. Mary’s climate. After its positive reception at the now-closed Green Bean, the Grind decided to transition from serving Starbucks coffee to buying equal exchange fair-trade coffee beans. They are also entirely student-staffed, with several student managers. During the week, the Grind also hosts musical guests and open mic-nights, meaning there’s rarely a week that goes by when a crowd of people doesn’t cluster into the seating area to hear live music or entertainment.
For me, my fondest memories of the Grind will always be the countless nights I’ve spent there with Take One! Improv. We head up there after practice, sometimes a lot of us, sometimes just a handful. We sit there, having a snack and talking in the coffee shop, sometimes late into the night. It’s one of those things that seems so little in the grand scheme of what we do as a club, but as I dwell on it now I’m seeing what a magical thing it is. Even after spending two hours together, that’s the place where our club bonds, it’s the place that’s most important to how we become close not just as actors, but as friends. And the Grind is what helps facilitate that. For me, and for so many students on campus looking for a cozy place.