This past Wednesday in Chapel Hill, I drank a twenty-ounce cup of iced coffee in five minutes flat, record time. The coffee beans were packaged by Carrboro Coffee Roasters just down the road, sourced from Nicaragua, and appropriately named “Un Regalo de Dios,” or a gift from God. My iced coffee was earthy and smooth, bitter and sweet—a coffee that few people would want to chew gum after drinking. And, it packs an unexpected kick.
This proves necessary for a college student like me. Thankfully, I purchased this cup of coffee in between classes at UNC’s newest coffee joint: The Meantime Coffee Co.
But the best part of The Meantime might not even be their coffee. The small coffee shop is completely student-owned and run, which is something that CEO Keegan McBride would call “uniquely UNC.”
A Carolina blue wall, a painting of coffee beans flowing out of two mugs shaped like an hourglass, and a cartoonish Rameses provide the illustrated backdrop behind the coffee bar. An large hourglass running through light blue sand (nay Carolina blue) sits on the counter, where student baristas serve your drink with wide smiles.
The coffee shop is also a non-profit. McBride and fellow CEO Scott Diekema are still finalizing specific details on how they will distribute the proceeds, but they do plan to reinvest the money into other student ventures on campus.
“You can come here and buy a cup of coffee and you are investing in UNC students,” McBride says.
After the Daily Grind, our beloved campus coffee shop, closed in June after twenty-three years of independent business, many UNC coffee-lovers like me dreaded the idea of something vital to the campus community being replaced by a coffee conglomerate. Fears were soon confirmed. The building that used to house the Daily Grind and an adjacent university-owned bookstore has been revamped with new ownership into a store owned by Barnes & Noble and a coffee shop selling the Starbucks brand.
The loss of the Daily Grind was personal. I didn’t just lose the opportunity to drink Milky Way’s as I hauled through main campus, but all of us connected to UNC lost something distinct to our identity.
“I think something that you felt when you walked into the Daily Grind is that it is something that grew out of UNC, that could only grow out of UNC,” McBride says.
The Meantime was in the works long before the Daily Grind closed. On September 12, the shop opened to a steady stampede of customers, far more than McBride and Diekema anticipated. They immediately doubled their staff.
With the increasing privatization of UNC, many students are grateful for the opportunity to purchase coffee from an independent retailer.
“The most common thing that we hear from customers when they are buying our coffee is thank you,” says Diekema.
The Meantime plans to roll out an expanded drink menu next week, complete with an espresso bar for macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lattes. The shop will sell a small selection of loose-leaf teas. Over the coming weeks, they also intend to expand their food options with treats from Made with Love Bakery and So Good Pupusas, both Chapel Hill companies.
If these drinks are even half as good as the gift from God that I drank on Wednesday, I will definitely be taking all my study breaks by that Carolina blue wall.