While coffee is important to students any time of the year, the colder seasons create an even more desperate need for some warm caffeine.
“Warm beverages and cold seasons go well together, Wi-Fi and cold seasons go well together, books and cold seasons go well together,” said Arian Brazenwood, a freshman civil engineering major at the Alleycat Wednesday. “Alleycat is conducive to all of the above, so obviously one could infer it goes well with winter.”
The simple label of coffee shop does not cover the experience offered at Alleycat. The “Cat” offers a little something and a lot of culture for everyone. There are board games and books to peruse and hip music pumping through speakers throughout the entire second story. Artwork decorating the ceiling and walls frames a collection of tables and booths littering the floor.
“It’s really cool, but it’s also a very good source of distraction,” Brazenwood said. “If I just got in a cubicle of boring-ness I would probably work more efficiently. However, with the distractions, I do enjoy my work a tad more.”
Free Wi-Fi and 24-hour service are two amenities that help explain the huddled masses that flock to the Cat day and night.
The 24-hour service causes a lot of power to be handed to the barista when the manager or owner is not around.
“That’s kind of the fun of the Alleycat, is that there’s a lot of autonomy given to the employees,” said Kevin Hicks, the shift manager on duty. “They get responsibility to make their own decisions and kind of run the show. They put on their own music and create their own ambiance.”
Along with setting the mood, the baristas make fresh the sweet chai, spicy chai, brown ginger tea and ginger milk.
“Especially on Tuesdays, when we have special chai deal, chai is the most popular,” Hicks said. “Our house-made ginger tea and our wonderful selection of teas on our tea wall are also quite popular.”
A good business relationship with the folks downstairs helps to create the menu. Ingrained Bakery by Callie Koch fills the pastry case and makes focaccia and sourdough bread for sandwiches. Dam Good Tacos creates a breakfast burrito served at the Cat.
“We’re all a big family,” Hicks said. “(We have) a good business relationship and a good family relationship with them. And people will be upstairs eating tacos and enjoying our coffee. There’s a lot of back and forth.”
The customers can contribute to the ambiance as well by painting a ceiling tile or even a wall mural like local artist Lindee Zimmer. Zimmer is a CSU alumna with a degree in education. She says the Alleycat has been like her home since 2005, and when the owner asked her to paint a mural, she took two years and a lot of coffee to complete it.
“It’s like a cat striking out of a teapot-lamp thing,” Zimmer said.
Alleycat can be compared to an art gallery, showcasing one artist’s work every month on its walls.
“The artwork, for the most part, is all for sale, so if you see something you really like talk to the barista and they can facilitate the sale,” Hicks said.
Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.