A new type of Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is in the works. Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea announced they will be opening a location across from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio. The new location will join the 12 current Sweetwaters stores located in states including Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea was founded in 1993 by University of Michigan alums Wei and Lisa Bee. The chain, known for its unique food and drink options in addition to traditional coffee offerings, was born on the University’s campus. Their original store is located on East Washington Street, and the franchise has expanded to eight locations across Michigan with five more projected to open soon.
Sweetwaters has also recently announced upcoming openings in New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas, to name a few.
Jodi Schwartz, Sweetwaters' director of marketing, said the expansion to OSU was part of a larger plan for their growth. According to Schwartz, over 100 more Sweetwaters locations have been proposed.
“While UM and OSU are sports rivals, beyond that we believe great beverages should be shared with everyone,” Schwartz wrote in an email to The Daily. “With 116+ locations in the works, we will be on many campuses and in towns and cities. We wouldn't want to deprive anyone of the best drinks.”
Sweetwaters has been a staple of the community for 26 years. According to the website, Sweetwaters aims to create a product line with classic café and globally inspired items.
Coffee shops on the University’s campus are notorious for being cramped and crowded, hindering students’ abilities to study at them. For LSA junior Selin Levi, she chooses to study at Sweetwaters because of its calm environment, as opposed to other study spots around town. Levi also mentioned the appeal of the unconventional drink items Sweetwaters sells.
“The Starbucks on State Street can get very crowded, and I feel like Sweetwaters usually has space,” Levi said. “I think that they also do interesting drinks as well, like they have more than just your standard latte, Americano, stuff like that … they have a really cool variety of teas.”
LSA junior Zoe Pearlman was a Sweetwaters employee at the East Washington location for over a year. While working as a barista, Pearlman noted that the hip and welcoming nature of Sweetwaters could be successful on other college campuses.
“I think it’s awesome they’re expanding,” Pearlman said. “I think it’s definitely a very college campus sort of vibe.”
Levi said she will continue to visit Sweetwaters.
“I’m actually surprised, I did not know they (Sweetwaters) were branching out outside of Michigan,” Levi said. “Maybe now I’m a little bit more suspicious about where their loyalties lie, but I’ll obviously still go for their matcha lattes.”