Coffee: A Deep Rooted Tradition


In all institutions of Higher Education there are numerous
differences, however, similarities exist as well. This can
be seen when examining Willamette University and the
University of Mississippi. The background of these
institutions is very different, thus, the "college
experience" for each student body is very distinct. The
past or traditions influence the actions of students at
both of the universities.
Even though traditions can result in differences, traces of
similarities can also be found. One tradition which is
shared by both institutions is the consumption of coffee.
Coffee houses located near Willamette University and the
University of Mississippi, are like magnets that attract
college students. Even though Willamette University is a
small, conservative institution, located on the west coast,
and the University of Mississippi is a larger more liberal
setting, located within the heart land of the United States, students at both institutions flock to coffee
houses, both on and off campus, to relax, read, think and
The Bistro at Willamette is a favorite spot for students.
It is located on the Willamette University campus, thus
making it a very convenient place for the students to meet.
The Bistro serves people who like to enjoy a cup of coffee,
as well as something sweet to eat. This little coffee house
resembles an antique restaurant. It has many different
types of old wooden chairs and couches. The table mats and
couch cushions are decorated in a very sixty's fashion,
with spermatic coloring and psychedelic designs. On any
given day the Bistro is packed with students and faculty
all congregating here together. This makes the Bistro a
kind of limbo, where Professors and students may freely
interact in a more social atmosphere. Students and
Professors often meet hear to discuss a plethora of topics;
ranging from the taste of the coffee that they are
drinking, to political discussions on Newt Gingridge
The Beanery is another coffee house near Willamette
University. It is located off campus within the Salem city
center. This coffee house is decorated in a very simple
way, with all the characteristic coffee house designs. The
store itself is very small and situated in-between other
shops. The Beanery is usually very crowded; for it not only
serves Willamette students, but also the many transients
who travel the bus lines between California, Portland and
Seattle. These transients are often people from different
walks of life who are attempting to succeed in a musical
career. This feature makes The Beanery a very diverse
setting and allows Willamette students to interact with
peers that have elected another route in life besides
college. Such interaction is very interesting, and is
always done graciously by both parties. The Beanery, is one
of the few places in Salem where the students interact with
people outside the campus. 

The coffee houses that the Willamette University students
visit, are in principle very similar to the coffee houses
at the University of Mississippi. Following in this college
tradition, students at the University of Mississippi also
like to indulge in the "atmosphere" of coffee. "Ole Miss"
as the students refer to the University of Mississippi, has
many "joints" where students may attain their coffee "fix".
The Hoka, is known to be a place where someone may sit, and
"chill with cinnamon coffee" (Karen Carlisle). This coffee
house is more than just the average coffee hut; the Hoka
serves as a movie theater, restaurant and cafe`. This
conglomeration of hang outs, appears to be a place left
around from the sixty's. It plays "movies that you could
not find in most places. . .[and]. . .serves vegetarian
food" (Misty D. Shores). The main attraction at the Hoka is
being able "to relax and visit with your friends" (Misty D.
Shores), while having a cup of coffee with a piece of their
"famous cheesecake" (Rich Young). The Hoka, although being
very old is alive due to the college tradition of having a
cup of coffee while relaxing or working.
Another hangout where students of the University of
Mississippi like to visit, and relax with some coffee is
Square Books. This store not only sells coffee, but is also
a very famous book store. Ole Miss students know that
Square Books has "had a long history to tell about its
inhabitants" (Rich Young). The walls of this emporium are
covered with pictures of all the famous people that have
visited there. The Ole Miss students carry on the tradition
of this store by; visiting, getting a book and then reading
with some coffee. At any time "many college students appear
on the balcony reading and drinking coffee" (Gretta
George). Square Books is another one of those places that
appeals to a college student's most basic needs; learning,
relaxing and socializing. Without places such as The Hoka
and Square Books, writers such as Faulkner and Grisham may
not have been so inspired to become writers. 

Although very different in almost every aspect, Willamette
University and the University of Mississippi have their
roots in a very strong tradition of higher education. These
universities were founded within two years of each other;
Willamette University in 1844 and Ole Miss in 1846. Social
traditions that have been passed down since then are
grounded into the freshman's soul. These social traditions
help make up the overall personality of a university.
Coffee seems to be a tradition that students from both of
these universities take very seriously. Spanning over two
thousand miles, and hundreds of different cultures,
Willamette University and Ole Miss students share a similar
need for coffee. It seems to me, that coffee is an
essential ingredient for learning; just as milk is an
essential ingredient in a "cafe".


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