Renovated Science Center Coffee Bar Offers Greater Space and Expanded Menu

On September 2nd, the newly renovated Science Center Coffee Bar opened with greater space and more food and drink options. Renovations to the space began after last year’s commencement and were completed this past summer in an effort to more efficiently serve the volume of students and to create a welcoming and convenient place on campus for students to study, socialize, and grab something to eat. 

“The renovated space at the Café will add to the welcoming environment we hope to create in all of our dining venues. The Café at the Science Center will continue to encourage students to gather and have a space for community and studying in Eldridge Commons,” Amanda Karpen, the Associate Director of Dining Services, said. 

Dining Service administrators see the decision to expand both the space and menu at the Science Center Coffee Bar as part of a greater initiative to provide more accessible dining options to the members of the Swarthmore community. 

         The Director of Dining Services, Linda McDougall, said, “If you’re in a hurry, it’s a great option to get something and take it somewhere.”

McDougall and her colleagues recognize the importance of providing a variety of food and drink options at the coffee bar. Some of the additions to the menu at the Science Center Coffee Bar include Goba Bubble Tea, Bubba’s granola, Oh Snap! Pickles, La Colombe canned beverages, as well as more sandwiches, salads, and soups. 

One significant product change to the Science Center Coffee Bar’s menu is the replacement of Chestnut Hill Roasters coffee with La Colombe coffee, a different local roaster. 

“We originally had Chestnut Hill Roasters there last year. And they were also at Kohlberg Coffee Bar and Essie Mae’s Snack Bar, so we thought it’d be really nice to differentiate what’s at each location,” McDougall explained. 

A number of members of the Swarthmore community have responded positively to the change in coffee and the expanded menu. 

Grace Dumdaw ’21 stated, “It’s great to see that a few more food and drink options were added, including La Colombe.” 

“The display looks really nice and the fact that we have more selection is definitely aesthetic to the eye, ” Woodjerry Etienne ’20 said.

While students are grateful for the greater variety of food options, some students are skeptical about how the renovations will affect the efficiency of the café. Dumdaw expressed concern about the new walk-in aspect of the space. 

“Space-wise, I think the renovation did more harm than good by creating a tight bottleneck effect that slows down the flow of Sci Bar during rush hours,” Dumdaw said. 

Matthew Lucker ’21 also questioned the new architectural set-up of the coffee bar. 

“I cannot imagine how that space will be able to successfully handle a rush without clumsily passing through,” Lucker added.

Dining Services, however, considered these layout details among others in their planning process. 

“The process was multifaceted in that many factors came into play.  Some of these factors included product mix, storage, enhancing and complementing the Science Center’s environment and aesthetic through architectural and interior designs, and improving our ability to serve large volumes of guests in a welcoming and more efficient manner,” Karpen said. 

         In the coming weeks, Dining Services and the Swarthmore community will be able to gauge the effects of the renovations of the Science Center Coffee Bar definitively. 

As Karpen said, “Swarthmore students and dining staff alike are still ‘getting to know’ the new cafe, and as the weeks and months go on, the space and how it will be used will continue to evolve.”

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