Campus coffee shops enrich community

Modero has many handmade cup options for in house drinks. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
Barefoots has a standard menu but baristas are trained to make any drink that you like. |Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
Barefoots Joe has a standard menu but baristas are trained to make any drink that you like. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer

Coffee is what keeps many college students going. But students don’t have to drive to Starbucks for that quality morning jolt. The university’s roasting operation began in 2012, and Barefoots Joe was featured in Barista Magazine in 2014 for roasting and serving the top 10 percent quality coffee in the world.

When The Logos opened this past November, so did Modero, Union’s second coffee shop. Barefoots Joe and Modero each have a distinct atmosphere, and both shops complement one another well, providing a variety of benefits for the campus and community.

“Barefoots, because of its size and type of group seating, offers more space for hanging out and larger group conversations,” said director Joy Moore. “Modero is smaller and allows for people to sit alone or with a smaller group of people, to get coffee or eat lunch together, and then to head into the library for studying. Both shops intend to enhance the cultural life of Union University and Jackson.”

Due to Modero opening Barefoots hours have been adjusted. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
Due to Modero opening, Barefoots Joe’s hours have been adjusted. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer

As you walk into Barefoots Joe, you are enveloped in the deep, rich smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting from the corner of the room. A limited amount of daylight streams into the room through the glass doors and the picture window in the far corner. Someone is sitting by that window with headphones and a laptop, wearing a band T-shirt. She’s deeply focused and probably doesn’t hear the intense discussion between a professor and three students happening to her left at a circular table.

As you walk toward the counter to place your order, you pass a group of students lounging on the couches lined up in the center of the room. Books, backpacks and laptops are laid out over the tables and floor. Startled by a squeal of excitement, you look that direction and see two friends running toward each other, their heartfelt hug followed by grins and laughter.

While you’re waiting for your coffee, you look behind you to see an empty stage positioned at the wall opposite the glass doors, with a couple tables lined up at the base of the stage. At one of the tables sits a student taking notes on his steno pad while the older woman in front of him continues telling her story, gazing off in the distance as memories of the past come back to her mind like a strong gust of wind.

The music, the low hum of voices and the occasional swish from the steamer in the espresso machine all blend together in a warm, welcoming rhythm that compels you to stay awhile longer.

“The history of Barefoots tells a redemptive story out of a difficult season for our university and community,” Moore said.

There are a variety of cup sizes for in house drinks at Barefoots. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
There are a variety of cup sizes for in house drinks at Barefoots. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer

Not long after some students presented their idea of a coffee shop/student center, the 2008 tornado struck. With Moore leading the project, a team of students and volunteers immediately began renovating the former student lounge into a place for community and creativity.

“Barefoots began as the dream and project of a handful of students who imagined repurposing the old student lounge into a more lively, cultural place for the campus,” Moore said.

Barefoots Joe hosts events related to the arts and displays student work that adds to the eclectic atmosphere. While the menu includes great-tasting drinks, the emphasis is a space for collaboration and growth, a space for cultivating meaningful relationships.

As you walk into Modero, you immediately catch the delectable smell of a pesto chicken wrap as an older man wearing a sports jacket and shoulder bag walks out carrying his to-go order. The place is fairly quiet, except for the calming jazz music playing in the speakers and the polite conversations between the barista and customers.

The current menu at Modero includes many new options including food. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
Modero’s menu includes many new options. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer

The room is full of light, as 3/4 of the walls are made entirely of windows, and the white ceilings contain a number of circular LED lights, which create a lively atmosphere. The tables, chairs, counter and cabinets are made of distressed wood and charcoal-colored metal, which, paired with the patterned gray floors and abstract art, adds to the contemporary feel of the room.

As you make your way to the counter, you pass several students sitting at tables of their own with papers spread out, obviously not planning to leave until they finish. The barista greets you with a warm smile. You order, pay and walk out in a matter of minutes with a chai tea latte and salad in hand, planning to come back again tomorrow.

“Modero’s identity is shaped by its location with The Logos library,” Moore said. “We wanted it to implicitly convey a celebration of intellectual life and a classy urban sensibility—a reminder that we enter libraries in part to study and learn and to return to the present world as better participants.”

Varieties of coffee and tea brewers are offered for sale at Modero. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer
Varieties of coffee and tea brewers are offered for sale at Modero. | Photo by Gretchen Foels, staff photographer

Modero is unique from Barefoots Joe in the areas of design and service. Barefoots’ renovation consisted of student-made furniture and decorations. But when designing Modero, Moore and several students worked with TLM designer Lisa Deaton and concentrated their efforts in planning and branding, or “casting the vision,” while they left the work of bringing their designs to life to professionals.

Modero offers a broad menu and food selection including items like Italian and cream sodas, Odwalla juices, yogurt parfaits and artisan salads and sandwiches that aren’t available anywhere else on campus.

“Both shops intend to enhance the cultural life of Union University and Jackson,” Moore said. “Barefoots does this through specialty coffee culture and by cultivating the arts on campus; Modero does it more through ambiance and making the specialty coffee culture more prominent.”

Image courtesy of Gretchen Foels
About Mattanah DeWitt 24 Articles
Mattanah, journalism major and class of 2020, is the Assistant Editor for Cardinal & Cream. She often misunderstands sarcasm and eats chocolate.