On the Hobbs-Dunkin divide, and on Jamocha

As a non-coffee drinker, I’ve found the culture surrounding coffee fascinating. It seems that Swatties love coffee more than any other substance available. I’ve met serious coffee drinkers, who drink it because they love coffee for coffee’s own sake and I’ve met those who drink it solely for the caffeine, and I’ve discovered that asking someone to coffee is a casual way to spend time with someone you don’t normally see outside of class. Coffee has unique implications to campus culture, and the two coffee spots on the OneCard reflect the strong influence of coffee on life at Swarthmore. Hobbs and Dunkin Donuts, however, have unique offerings completely separate from coffee. What makes them different from each other and allows them to both hold their own in such close proximity to each other is the food they serve and the very different niches they’ve carved out in the coffee market.
Hobbs has set itself as the standard off-campus spot for getting coffee. Each time I go to Hobbs, I am slightly overwhelmed by the crowded space. I find the process of ordering confusing and cumbersome; drinks are posted on the board, but their food menus, mostly bagels and bagel sandwiches, lie on the counter as you get ready to order. My indecisive nature, combined with the limited time I have to interact with the bagel-sandwich list, causes more stress than I ever want to deal with on a Saturday. The process is worth it because once I’ve gotten my bagel and an iced chai latte, all seems right with the world. The bagel is warm and the pesto creates savory flavor tones that complete the sandwich and my afternoon. The ambiance in Hobbs is warm and inviting and almost intellectual. The warm buzz of caffeine stimulates interesting conversations, and its proximity to campus makes it a great place to escape McCabe but still get work done on a weekend. Hobbes has captured a significant portion of the Swarthmore market for off-campus coffee — when you ask someone to meet for coffee, it is just assumed you’re going to Hobbs. Hobbs is ingrained in the Swarthmore experience and is almost as quintessential to social life as Pub Nite and misery poker.
Even though Hobbs is generally the go-to for Swatties, Dunkin Donuts has its merits as well. Not just a Dunkin, the restaurant is half Baskin-Robbins, which means yes, you could potentially use your meal plan to buy an ice cream cake. That in itself, as well as the to-go munchkins, make Dunkin Donuts potentially the most underrated establishment on the OneCard. Dunkin Donuts also offers a standardization across different parts of the country that makes getting your favorite donut quick and easy. A french cruller from Dunkin tastes the same in Dover, Delaware as it does in Delaware County, PA, making it easily the most convenient way to cure a minor bout of homesickness. The familiarity of the pink and orange color scheme always strikes me when I walk in, and I find it incredibly comforting that the same donuts sit on the same wire shelves as in my hometown. The ice cream flavors sitting behind the glass remind me of all the times my ex and I sat eating icecream in my local Dunkin Donuts-Baskin Robbins. I’m reminded of how much he loves the Jamocha flavor, but hates the name, and all of his other idiosyncrasies that made him so unique. Thinking of all the times we ate Baskin Robbins together made me nostalgic for the good times we had. As I was walking out of the Swarthmore Dunkin Donuts, I noticed that Jamocha ice cream had been replaced with Jamocha Almond Fudge. I realized that both my ex and I have become different flavors since we broke up, but on our own terms.
Hobbs and Dunkin could be generally regarded as competitors, but their differences couldn’t be more stark. Hobbs is a good place for grabbing coffee with someone you want to get to know better, and Dunkin Donuts is a great place to grab a sweet treat and then jet off to class, or to make a late night ice cream run with friends. In my experience, Dunkin Donuts is quicker because Hobbs is often crowded. Dunkin Donuts reminds me of home and the person I loved most in high school, and Hobbs reminds me that I am in a constant state of new beginnings. Seeing them across the street from each other is a metaphor for the intersection that this phase of my life is. College isn’t quite what is normally regarded as the “real world,” but I am more independent than ever before. I’ve moved on from my ex, but I haven’t quite forgotten why I loved him so much. I think about how much has changed since those moments, and while everything has changed for the better, it was still pretty sweet.

Laura Wagner

Laura '20 is from Dover, Delaware. She is in the honors program studying political science and economics. Outside of the classroom and the newsroom, her interests include running, politics, and really good books.

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