What’s the buzz… Marlins at work

Featured Image: Mel Lhuillier | Marlin Chronicle

Coaster Coffee

Across from Northside Park, a mere ten minutes from Wesleyan’s campus, lies a barista’s playground and hub for community interaction. Coaster Coffee, on their website, defines itself as a neighborhood-focused shop that sprung into existence as “an answer to the increasing demand for a neutral community meeting place in the greater Ocean View area.” 

Junior Britni Arrington works as a barista at Coaster Coffee, and serves an order of a dirty chai and a chocolate croissant, below. Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle
Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle

Started by the [OV] Church, it is a non-profit business, with all of their profits feeding the surrounding community by–once again listed on the website–“feeding the hungry, building community gardens, teaching kids the arts and helping people who are out of work secure employment.” Coaster Coffee seems to expand their latte flavor menu just as much as they do their creative forms of outreach.

Virginia Wesleyan’s very own Britni Arrington-a junior on the swim team–has worked as a barista at Coaster since May of 2022. A local of Virginia Beach, Arrington has been a regular since it first opened six years ago. “I’ve always loved that place and I have so many fond memories of going there in middle and high school,” Arrington said.

Coaster is most aptly described as cozy and always naturally lit, Arrington said, “It’s got study booths and tables you can hang out with your friends at. You can sit at the bar and watch the baristas and chat. We baristas like to play our playlists that we’ve made, so those vibes are also immaculate. My coworkers have great music taste.” Open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., caffeine addicts, studious students and anyone in need of a pastry make up the list of regulars pouring through Coaster’s doors.

After working there for nearly a year, Arrington reaffirmed Coaster Coffee’s mission statement, saying, “A unique thing about Coaster is how many regulars we have. Our mission is to serve the Ocean View community and we do just that. I love getting to know everyone that comes in.” Customers know that Coaster provides more than just caffeine. It’s a space to collaborate and communicate, with a small store section, books to browse and even a children’s toy set, to complete the family-friendly space.

Aiding in the developmental impact it has made on the community, Coaster’s menu supersedes and outranks any commercial coffee shop. Frappuccinos, lattes, smoothies and tea compose only half of their drink options, all of which are completely customizable. Their syrups and sauces range from raspberry to hawaiian caramel, with seasonal and specialty flavors on the occasion. As for food, the options are slightly more limited, but one could easily grab an egg bite and chocolate croissant for breakfast or a turkey on ciabatta for lunch.

As an experienced barista with time to experiment behind the bar, Arrington said, “My favorite thing to order changes all the time because everything is so good. Right now, I’m kinda obsessed with the apple chai or our cherry cordial.”

Lucky Cup

Tucked away in the corner of the Chimney Hill shopping center, the Lucky Cup is an eclectic treasure trove, disguised as a coffee shop. Their mission, as stated on their website, focuses on sustainability–not only environmentally, but through funding opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged youths. Only an eighteen minute drive from campus, it’s a great place to get away from the library, Batten or Greer. 

Willow Baker, a Virginia Wesleyan junior on the field hockey team, has been working for Lucky Cup for over a year. Baker said, “I started working at Lucky Cup Coffee Shop due to how close it was to my house,” although Baker worked at the Cypress Point location, when it closed due to management issues, she was still able to continue her job. “I could not think of a better coffee shop to work at,” Baker said.

Willow Baker serves up a Lucky Cuplatte, as her coworker prepares another drink. Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle

The unassuming storefront might deceive you, as the interior of Lucky Cup is extensive. Despite the ample seating and large study room, the atmosphere is relaxed and homely. Cans are stacked by the entrance for a local food drive, murals paint the walls and coffee puns decorate signs scattered throughout the shop. 

Baker said it best, “The atmosphere is amazing! We have a library section that is quiet and perfect for studying as well as finding new books to read. We have a give-a-book-bring-a-book policy so feel free to trade in some books! We have a kid’s corner that is full of children’s books, puzzles and a train track.” The rest of the store is set up perfectly for friends to enjoy each other’s company, listening to nostalgic tunes and sipping on one of their numerous beverages. Even if you’re by yourself, the baristas are a wonderfully friendly team, able to balance complicated orders and maintain conversation. 

Be prepared to occupy a table for a while, as Lucky Cup is open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Their flavorful and reasonably priced menu is designed to sustain you through your stay with extremely customizable sandwiches, as well as a mountain of pastries and desserts. Unlike many coffee shops, Lucky Cup features many specialty drinks–blends of syrups and sauces that sport cute names like campfire (essentially a toasted s’more). Their options range from caramel apple butter to toasted almond mocha and even elderflower. If none of their specialty drinks appeal to you, you are free to choose as many syrups as you desire from their list, which covers traditional flavors, the fruity/floral and even sugar-free options. 

Baker, when asked about her favorite order, said, “My personal favorite currently is our Busy Bee iced latte with oat milk. My favorite food item is a sausage egg and cheese on a croissant with added avocado spread.” If espresso is not your cup of tea, they do offer hot chocolate, hot teas and CBD coffee.

17 Hands Coffee and Robin Simms Bakery 

Edward McDonald, a junior on the swim team at Virginia Wesleyan, began working for 17 Hands at the beginning of his junior year. McDonald said, “I had previously worked as a lifeguard, at Chick-fil-A and in the Forest Service, but I wanted a fun job that paid well during the school year. Being a barista was the perfect fit for me!”

The name, 17 Hands, is an equestrian reference based on the owner’s ownership of two horses. This theme is studded throughout the warm and earthy interior–carousel horses and silhouettes mingle with the rustic vibe. An open floor plan provides seating around multiple sides of the bar, which allows customers to be entertained by watching baristas craft their beverages.

Junior Edward McDonald gives a double thumbs up behind the bar, at 17 Hands, and serves a latte with a lemon blueberry scone, below. Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle
Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle

With warm weather returning, a plethora of exterior tables compensates for minimal indoor seating. However, since the shop is open from 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, until 7 p.m. everyday, there should be no issue finding a quiet nook in which to read or people watch.

Because of their bakery partnership, not only does 17 Hands serve coffee, tea lattes, hot chocolate, steamers and alcoholic beverages, but quiche, cakes and cheesecakes, biscuit sandwiches, scones and cookies. Familiar cakes, like confetti, are intermingled with new flavors such as biscoff cheesecake or lemon and lavender scones. 

Aesthetically scrawled on their chalkboard menu is a prolific list of flavored syrups and specialty drinks created by the baristas themselves. Options such as a butterbeer or strawberries n cream latte enables regulars to spice up their orders. 

Their version of a brown sugar shaken espresso allows caffeine addicts to level up from Starbucks. 17 Hands even pays homage to multiple cultures with Asian and Latin inspired drinks. 

Additionally, the team at 17 Hands is more than happy to assist customers in creating new flavor combinations–no customization is a bother. McDonald said, “My favorite thing to order on the menu is a drink I designed: The Jack Johnson. It’s a banana pancake latte with whipped cream and caramel drizzle.” 

The intimacy of a small business truly creates a sense of community and appreciation. Paper hearts adorn the pastry cases, revealing grateful patrons’ favorite orders. After working for nearly half a year, McDonald said, “We’re definitely a neighborhood coffee shop, but we’re also in close proximity to Regent University, so we have quite a diverse community.” The clientele encompasses “mom’s clubs, law student study-groups, daddy-daughter dates and whole families,” McDonald said.

By Sasha Saxon