Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Off the Ave coffee shop is poised to serve the perfect blend for Saint Mary’s students

When I first heard about the student run cafe, Off the Ave (OTA), opening in Spes Unica, one of the classroom buildings at Saint Mary’s, I was excited, to say the least. The cafe opened on Monday, much to the excitement of the Saint Mary’s College community. The hard work of the students who founded and now run the cafe is one of many reasons to go there. 

There was a lot I enjoyed at OTA. First, I love the cafe’s convenient location. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have three classes in Spes Unica, and two of the classes are back to back. I’ve rushed to 1844 Cafe more times than I can count to get coffee. This frequently results in me arriving late to poetry class. Now, with the cafe’s proximity to my classrooms, I can frequently stop for coffee and not be late to class. 

In addition to the convenience of the cafe, the overall space is wonderful. It provides a study space for students along with their coffee. The decorations and the thought that was put into the space enhance the overall experience. There is also a terrace right outside the cafe equipped with tables to enjoy outside. The customer service is also exceptional.

The founders’ attention to detail with Off the Ave extends to the menu. The cafe features both specialty drinks like Skunk Tails (coffee with mocha and white chocolate) and Cinnamon Squirrels (cinnamon, honey and vanilla), with cappuccinos and lattes coming down the line. I tried the cinnamon squirrel, the skunk tail and their cold brew coffee with cinnamon syrup.

My favorite drink was the Skunk Tail coffee because of the flavors used. The combination of mocha and white chocolate was good with the black coffee. While I enjoyed the Skunk Tail, I found myself on the fence in regards to the other drinks. The combination of the flavors in the Cinnamon Squirrel was a bit overwhelming, and I found myself unsure about the trifecta of cinnamon, honey and vanilla. The Skunk Tail used two flavors that enhanced each other. The white chocolate had a more subtle tone than the mocha. In contrast, the Cinnamon Squirrel felt like a battle between the cinnamon and the vanilla. When I tried the cold brew coffee, drinking it with solely cinnamon made the experience more enjoyable than drinking the Cinnamon Squirrel. Cinnamon and vanilla are both strong flavors on their own, which made me question the combination. In addition to the cinnamon and vanilla, there was also honey, which made the drink taste almost like tea. 

The Cinnamon Squirrel was very sweet, and I personally enjoy bitter coffee. I think the drinks currently served at Off the Ave would be highly enjoyable for a new coffee drinker who may not like the bitter taste of coffee. After five years of drinking coffee, however, I have a clear perspective on how I like my coffee, and the drinks the cafe is serving currently don’t match my taste. I really look forward to seeing drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos become available. More availability in their menu would broaden the reach of the business. Off the Ave has a lot of creativity in their strategy, though, and I love seeing a student-run business on campus.

Cafe: Off The Ave 

Location: Spes Unica at Saint Mary’s College

Drinks: Coffee, tea

Favorite Drink: Skunk Tail 

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5