Chapman’s Coffee Shop Battle Royale

Three coffee shops in the Chapman area deciding who will take students’ money. Art by Griffen Hamilton.

What does coffee and Chapman have in common? Students love it, crave it and it’s a draining way to spend their money.

Chapman students mostly show loyalty to three coffee shops within walking distance of campus to feed their crippling caffeine addiction. This Great Coffee War consists of Philz Coffee, which is a minute walk from campus, Contra, which is a two-minute walk from campus, and Starbucks, which is in the middle of campus in Beckman Hall. 

Each has its zealous defenders.

“Sometimes on campus (Starbucks), I feel like everytime I go there it’s different,” said sophomore Philz Coffee drinker Payton McKinnis. “Sometimes I go and it tastes like pond water.”

Many Chapman coffee drinkers feel very strongly against other coffee shops that they don’t go to. Factions are created on campus for each coffee shop, full of people who defend their coffee shop like a home game at Wilson Stadium. 

“Contra… I’m not super impressed with them. Everytime I go I’m like, ‘oh this is okay.’ I think it’s really overhyped,” said McKinnis.

Each coffee shop has its own strengths and weaknesses. For your avid coffee drinker, Philz Coffee is the most consistent of the three, with a good brew and a good atmosphere according to McKinnis. 

But then, her bias is admitted. You can find defenses on the internet for all three to claim having the best coffee.

Payton McKinnis (left) with friends Isabella De La Torre (center) and Julia Sapeta (right) at Philz Coffee. Photo by Evan Raymond.

For Philz fans like McKinnis who just want a good cup of coffee, Contra and Starbucks both lack the consistency to make it good enough for Philz Coffee enthusiasts. 

“With Contra, I found one drink that was so good, and then they got rid of it. Starbucks is always out of things. If I want Starbucks actually, I’ll go to the one in The Circle. The one in Beckman is just more for convenience,” explained McKinnis.

Payton McKinnis posing with her favorite Philz Coffee drink. Photo courtesy of McKinnis.

“I like Philz coffee more… It’s not bitter or cheap tasting. They have the right amount of spice in there and the flavor is always good. There’s always fast service too,” said McKinnis.

However, sophomore Noelle Salcido doesn’t feel the same. She would rather walk an extra minute down Orange Street to get her next new exciting flavor from Contra.

For Salcido, a new flavor, a good vibe and Contra’s local connection is something she always enjoys investing in for her daily coffee binge. 

“I tried it last year and I think I started liking them because they had a lot of options. I’m a big coffee drinker and I like strong coffee and they have strong coffee there,” said Salcido. “There’s very chill vibes in there. You can go in there and study for hours, sit outside, sit inside, it’s quiet, it’s warm.”

Contra Coffee Shop. Photo by Evan Raymond.

Although Salcido does go to other coffee shops, she likes that Contra is local, and her money goes towards Orange’s local economy instead of a chain.

“Starbucks is a big chain, they get money everywhere. It feels better to support small businesses and local businesses to support our local economy,” explained Salcido.

As for the other coffee shops, there are certain things Salcido doesn’t enjoy. 

Noelle Salcido posing with her favorite Contra drink. Photo courtesy of Salcido.

“Everyone is in line for Starbucks all the time. There’s always a line. You can’t order online Starbucks here,” said Salcido. “I’d be mobile ordering all the time if they did that but they don’t.” 

According to Salcido, McKinnis is not telling the truth when she says Philz is consistent.

“Their menu is so small and the way they make their drinks is inconsistent,” said Salcido. “Their staff are nice but the right person has to make the drink for it to be good.”

That leaves Starbucks on campus. Many people globally enjoy Starbucks, but the shop on campus has an appeal of convenience for students looking to grab a cup of coffee on the way to class.

Sophomore Marjorie Stemmler knows this perfectly well, and despite what others say, she enjoys Starbucks on campus.

“I think Starbucks has the widest range of drinks. They have coffee, tea, refreshers and hot and cold everything,” said Stemmler. “I also like that it’s very convenient, it’s just right there. I can use my Panther Bucks which I also like.”

Chapman’s Starbucks line. Photo by Evan Raymond.

Stemmler thought that other shops were very “niche” in what they sold, and didn’t cover the general basics of what people wanted to buy.

“Philz, you can’t just get coffee. You have to get flavored coffee. You can’t just get regular coffee,” explained Stemmler. “Contra keeps changing their menu, so if you like something from it, it’s probably going to go away. So you have to keep going and finding a new drink. When at Starbucks, if you like a drink, most of them are going to stay.”

Chapman’s on-campus Starbucks. Photo by Evan Raymond.

Stemmler acknowledges the problems the Starbucks on campus has, but believes the good outweighs the bad. 

“There’s always rush hour, and I wouldn’t say Starbucks is generally the fastest company in general,” said Stemmler. “But, I think that because it’s on campus, that’s easier to get to than walking all the way to The Circle.”

Stemmler posing with her favorite Starbucks drink. Photo Courtesy of Stemmler.

While there could be no possible way to tell which of these coffee shops win the Chapman coffee shop battle royale, all three of these shops have their own strengths.

Want a good, consistent, good cup of coffee with only a minute walk away from campus? McKinnis believes Philz easily fills this criteria.

Want to go on an adventure and try something new with only a two-minute walk from campus? Salcido believes Contra is easily your best bet with the new flavors they introduce every week.

Want to get a wide range of drinks and know what you order at this coffee shop is available all over the world, and get it close to campus? Stemmler says Starbucks is easily your best bet.

Now it’s up to you Chapman students, you caffeine-crazed lunatics, to pick a shop and join the Great Coffee War.



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Evan Raymond is a sophomore vocal performance major with a journalism minor. When Evan isn't writing, he enjoys singing with the Men of Harmony a cappella group, listening to his "Vibes" playlist on Apple Music and eating endless amounts of Chick-Fil-A without deterrence.