A warm voice greets the customer from a place where twinkling lights warm up a space filled with hot chocolate, muffins, cookies, and a variety of coffees. A friendly greeting will most definitely accompany any purchase. Surprisingly, this cozy, homey scene can be found outside in the cold, on the corner of State Street and South University Avenue at a little white cart that goes by the name of Cool Beans.
Cool Beans is a refreshing addition to the University campus. Students can find some of the best quality coffees on campus as well as a friendly face. Owner Dina Heller can be found inside her van almost everyday.
A former children’s book-buyer for Borders, Heller decided to go into the coffee business because “if I could do anything … I would open a coffee shop.” So practically out of impulse, she decided to do so. However, instead of a shop, she chose to open a cart.
Coffee carts are popular in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, Heller said, and so she decided to bring the phenomenon here. She went through the necessary process, which includes buying a cart, choosing a roaster and getting permits from the city and the health department. On Oct. 25, Cool Beans opened for business.
The cart serves a wide assortment of hot drinks and will serve smoothies when it gets warmer. There is a stark difference between coffee from Starbucks and from Cool Beans. That is because Heller gets her beans from Zoka, a leading Seattle-based coffee roaster. While the more acidic darker roasts are more likely to be found at other coffee shops around campus, Cool Beans uses carefully roasted beans for a more refined espresso. The result is a naturally sweet and low-acid coffee, and an espresso drink that is robust and flavorful. Thirsty patrons can choose from cappuccinos, mochas, lattes or a very good plain cup of coffee. For those who are not coffee aficionados, Cool Beans also offers sweet ciders, delightful hot chocolates, or even a can of soda.
Regardless of whether or not costumers like all the products offered at Cool Beans, there is one overwhelming quality that is attractive to almost everyone; its site. Located across from the Michigan Union and in front of Angell Hall, students can pick up something on-the-go between classes, when time is limited. While hot dog stands benefit from students’ desire for a quick lunch, Cool Beans benefits from sleep-deprived students who need a caffeine boost before sitting through an hourlong lecture. And on a college campus, sleep deprivation can be much more prevalent than hunger. A warm cup of coffee is often also a welcome substitute to an ice-cold soda in the wintertime. The coffee cart should prove to be very convenient to students.
Heller has found customers more welcoming that she was expecting. She wasn’t sure what the reaction would be, but luckily she didn’t have to worry for too long.
“Everyone’s nice and supportive,” she explains. And she has plenty of reason to think so. Since she opened, students have appreciated the reasonably priced drinks as the cold weather approaches. And while they might find themselves waiting a while for their drinks, the wait is well worth the quality and the friendly conversation accompanied with it.