Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

The Many Moods of Wiggin Street Coffee

Natalie Kane
November 3, 2016

Since our village is small, the handful of independent businesses that we do have are called upon to fill many roles, and I think that our cozy coffee shop rises to this challenge especially well. Here are just a few of its functions that I have come to appreciate over my time here so far:

Brunch with visiting family and friends. This is likely the way many of us first encountered Wiggin Street, as the obvious place to grab coffee or a bagel as a break from the frenzy of a college tour or Move-In Day. To me it’s one of the spots that gives guests a taste of Kenyon as a social rather than merely an academic community, certainly a crucial aspect of any visit.

Early morning bursts of productivity. Even as a night owl whose modus operandi is to finish all my work before going to sleep, there are times when I know that a project would really benefit from another hour or two of attention by daylight. And what better place to head than one where you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by the smell of fresh coffee, free WiFi, and at least a few people whose early bird energy is hopefully contagious.

Reading Days encampments. As a history major, I tend to have most of my midterm and final evaluations in the form of papers as opposed to timed tests, so the lead up to exam week is often more stressful than the designated days themselves. In an attempt to distract myself from the fact that I’ve basically been doing nothing but writing papers for days, I like to keep ensconcing myself in new locations. Once I’ve exhausted my dorm room, the common room, and a few different parts of the library, Wiggin Street is a nice change of pace. The music is kept to a nice background volume, you only have to move a few steps to grab a snack, and the ingenious one-sided booths with adjacent outlets seem to have been designed for precisely this purpose.

These one-sided booths are perfect for projects when you need to spread out.

Times when you can just chill. If the one-sided booths are meant for that state affectionately known by many as “paper hell,” then the comfy (and just updated this fall!) chairs by the door are perfect for more relaxed visits. Whether it’s the end of the week or the semester, or even just an unexpectedly free afternoon, these cozy corners provide an ideal location to catch up with friends, curl up with a book, or people watch with a nice view of the Gates of Hell.

Comfortable corner seating offers a scenic view of Middle Path.

And times that are anything but chill. Then there are crazy, rare occasions that I really can’t present as representative of life at Kenyon – or can I? Earlier this month I discovered an unexpected perk to being on a small liberal arts campus in a swing state during a major election year when actress Kate Mulgrew visited Wiggin Street reminding us all to vote. (Orange is the New Black fans seemed pretty excited. Star Trek fans were flipping out. I take pride in being one of the latter.) Sure, the building wasn’t exactly meant to accommodate cheering, standing-room crowds for celebrity guests, and at least a few confused people’s lunch plans were likely thrown off by the event, but there’s something unreal and pretty amazing about meeting one of your heroes in a place you frequent and consider to be a part of your home.

Kate Mulgrew comes to Wiggin Street! 

So maybe I can’t promise that last one as something you too can experience at Wiggin Street – unless you consider it in a broader sense. There are incredible and diverse opportunities available all the time at Kenyon, so keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t delete those student-info emails unread. Listen to the people around you. Like our lovely coffee shop, the entire campus is home to many chameleon-like spaces that provide backdrops to the near-infinite variety of student life. So go out and make some memories.