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Jump into the java jive courtesy of UConn Dining Services

Campus Cuisine

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

UConn Dining Services dishes out the good, the bad and the "what is that?" food at every meal. Whether eating at dining halls, the Union or one of the cafes on campus, most students consume campus cuisine every day. This column is dedicated to reviewing the different foods provided by UConn and shaping you into an official UConn Dining Services connoisseur.

An independent entity from the university, Dining Services offers vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, international, organic, comfort and health foods. They even take requests for recipes. The food may not be five-star and gourmet, but at what other time in your life will you have such a variety of foods to feast on and not have to cook it yourself? We have it pretty good.

Let's start by looking at a dining services staple that students from all walks of life appreciate, coffee. This nectar of the gods is often a college student's savior for a long day, a late night or an all-nighter. While visions of Starbucks' caramel macchiatos or Dunkin Donuts' Dunkaccinos may dance in your head, it's Omar Coffee that is readily available to students in your nearest dining hall.

You can leave behind your dreams of perfectly brewed, deliciously roasted blends, because Omar Coffee is sure to fall flat in comparison. Not great yet not terrible, Omar Coffee from a dining hall is inconsistent at best. You may find a brew too strong or weak, but it's nothing that can't be helped by some milk and sugar or a little creamer. If you drink your coffee black, you're out of luck.

The seasonal brews and flavored coffee can add a bit of variety to your mug, but the variety of flavors between the brews are minimal. Omar Coffee is the workhorse of the coffee world – it gets the job done but isn't too fancy about doing it. At the end of the day, I thank my lucky stars for having mass amounts of caffeine available at my convenience.

If you need an intense sugar rush, the cappuccino and hot cocoa machines located in the dining halls are perfect. The labels on the machines claim they serve "a world of indulgent flavor," but I beg to differ. More of a sugary semi-liquid sludge than a drink, the products of these machines are pretty scary on their own. However, mixed with about two parts water or with coffee, the molten cappuccino or hot cocoa sludge becomes a sweet drink or a delicious flavoring for a coffee fusion.

If you really want to be frivolous and spend some of those oh-so-valuable points, the Union Cafe and the five other cafes on campus can whip up specialty drinks like Almond Joy, Milky Way or Snickers-flavored coffee. The iced versions are sometimes tastier than the hot, but the ice takes up a fair amount of container space that could otherwise be filled with coffee. At $3.60 for an iced specialty drink and $3.80 for a hot, these concoctions can be deadly to your points account. If you don't have points, I recommend that you make friends with a person who does and woo them to get a specialty drink for you. With enticing flavors and typically well-made blends, these drinks can be a treat to treasure for the five minutes it will likely take you to gulp them down.

I suggest that you do not purchase regular coffee from the cafes unless it is a matter of convenience. The cafes all serve the same Omar Coffee as the dining halls, and typically don't have flavored creamer or cappuccino machines to spruce up the coffee.

UConn Dining Services apparently understands our campus-wide caffeine addiction, providing students with coffee sources all over campus. You can harness the power of caffeine and manage to stay awake during your classes by bringing a thermos of Omar Coffee from the dining hall or stopping by a cafe to get a tastier, though more expensive, treat. 

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