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Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

 

Grooving at the Grove

by Annamarie Bezzerides, Muir, ’91

 
     

Believe it or not, there was life before Starbucks. And what a glorious, caffeinated, academically enriching life it was. This oasis of lattes and cappuccinos was smack dab in the middle of campus, hidden among eucalyptus, just southeast of “The Hump.”

I am talking about the Grove Caffe, where I spent much of my undergraduate years at UCSD. Whether I was working, slinging shots of hot espresso out the small service window, studying at one of the tables, or doing what is done best in a campus café—having long drawn out philosophical conversations about saving the world—I was soaking up the smell of coffee.

That little wooden hut had a funky, hip feel, where traditions like wearing strange hats flourished in protest against the health code requiring servers to cover their heads. I was particularly partial to the two-foot-tall, Dr. Seuss-inspired hats made of papier mâché. The Grove was home to anyone and everyone and offered cheap drinks and snacks to budget-conscious students, no matter their tastes, majors or social circle.

My co-workers and I got pretty good at predicting a customer’s order, be it faculty member, UCSD staff or student. After serving literally thousands of cups of caffeine, we could spot the scruffy surf rat who had just finished his morning “radical surf session at Black’s”—that would be a hot chocolate and cheese Danish. Or the three sorority sisters, clad in matching Greek-lettered sweatshirts, taking a break from studying at S&E library, around the corner. Yup, that one would be three large mochas, extra whip cream and three apple crisps. And then my favorite customers, the eccentric foreign-accented faculty members with their refined tastes. They were definitely double espressos or two Earl Grey tea bags per cup.

Not only did I get good at predicting orders, I would often see regular customers at the back of the line and have their drinks ready before they arrived. And, to this day, 15-plus years later, now a UCSD staff member, I sometimes walk into a meeting, see a faculty member or former grad student, and recall, “Oh, yeah, that will be a double macchiato and a scone, right?”

And speaking of scones, if you worked at the Grove, the deal was good—one drink and pastry per shift. So, with a double hammerhead mocha and a scone, you could last all day. And, if a scone happened to break on a shift, well, that was dinner. I’ll never forget a particularly lean summer where
I survived on broken scones for six days a week. I have never been able to look at those dough balls the same way since!

I have tried to keep tabs on some of my coffee compatriots but I wish I knew where more of you were, so drop me line. Maybe we could catch up over a cup ’o Joe—but, definitely the type that is brewed in a funky spot designed to bring out the best in radical discussions about saving the world. Or maybe today it might be about the best tips for childcare, pre-schools and life insurance. But, hey, isn’t that kinda related to saving the world?

Do you have a memory or a story about UCSD? This space could be yours. Write to the editor at alumnieditor@ucsd.edu

—Annamarie Bezzerides, ’91, is senior director of regional development at UCSD.

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Do you have a memory  or story about UCSD? Email the editor.