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A Love Letter to Coffee Garden

Coffee Garden birthed an addiction I’ll happily sate the rest of my life.
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


It’s fair to say it was the charming atmosphere and alluring smell of Salt Lake’s very own Coffee Garden that finally convinced my mother to leave a certain … restricting religion. It became increasingly hard to believe coffee was the drink of the devil once we realized its fervent worshipers were skater dudes in baggy jeans, young women greeting friends with iced lattes, professorial elders playing chess while drinking black java and new families ordering chai for the parents and cookies for their young’uns.

We made frequent trips to The Broadway to watch international arthouse cinema that would have put our former bishop into a coma, followed by drinks. South American drip for Mom and well-sweetened milky espresso for the girls became the only way to cope with the reactions our neighbors had to our new lifestyle — one that, despite its relative innocuousness, wasn’t exactly embraced down in northern Provo. Maybe these trips were really the only way to convince ourselves we were simply more artsy and intellectual than our pious neighbors who now shunned us. Our trek was passing Point of the Mountain at rush hour so we could catch a matinee before our beloved Coffee Garden closed its doors for the night. We were in the world and readily of it, and the world tasted like fine Italian craftsmanship and good old American dairy.

All the Cool Girls Are Doing It

When I graduated high school and realized it was not realistic to go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt attending the out-of-state schools I’d worked so hard to get into, I contented myself with the fact that I’d be minutes away from the best cafe in town — the best cafe in the world, as far as I was concerned. On hot summer days when I felt sweaty and irritable, I’d put on a long skirt and call up a girlfriend and have her drive us over to 9th and 9th. I hadn’t learned to drive as an unfortunate consequence of believing throughout high school I’d be in New York City by this point. Luckily, Coffee Garden is easily accessible by the 209 and the 9, both of which can be caught near campus. Taking the bus is more environmentally friendly, anyway; all the cool girls are doing it. 

Recently, a close friend and I began walking from our respective Liberty Wells apartments to the epicenter of caffeine one morning for a week before she started work for the day and I went back to my house to lounge in the heat and gripe about all the work I had to do: editing one or two articles and writing about something I would invariably enjoy once I got to it. 

She would get a lavender lemonade and I would order a 16-ounce iced vanilla latte (“yes, whole milk is perfect”). Sometimes I would get a rose and a lavender macaroon to share. I would make a comment on how my tastes were changing as I got older; I never used to think a cookie could be flower-flavored. The blonde barista, who was somehow always there, might make some nice comment on our outfits or our orders and we’d talk about it for weeks on end. Then, we’d take our spoils over to Liberty Park to “debrief the week’s events,” which we had naturally both been present for. 

“Pretend it’s 1995”

Perhaps the worst thing about Coffee Garden is finding a table, and there’s no Wi-Fi available. “Pretend it’s 1995,” a sign behind the espresso machine reads as if a third of their clientele was alive then. Still, the place is always bustling with students and work-from-home pencil pushers alike who bring their work here. They use their own hotspots to turn all the tedious tasks of the day into an excuse to spend $7 on something that will literally make their stomachs turn in an hour. But, for a few moments, what bliss. 

What Bliss

In a strange twist of fate, I’ve once again been separated from my coffee haven by an hour-long train ride and an unpredictable amount of time on the bus. I can’t walk a few blocks listening to some album a friend had recommended or find myself discussing quantum physics from an English major’s perspective or how none of our friends enjoy the park as we do. There’s good coffee in Provo, which I recently learned was there all along despite what my angsty “Lady Bird” youth would let me believe. But coffee comes from Coffee Garden, the cafe that typified Salt Lake and the bulk of my college experience. Coffee Garden birthed an addiction I’ll happily sate for the rest of my life. I went there after my first midterm, to introduce my mom to my college boyfriend, to reunite with extended family and to process some of the best and worst days of my adult life over a fancy latte. Even when I didn’t really have fancy latte money.

In the clarity of hindsight, I found my adult life in Salt Lake to be somewhat of a shit storm. But for a few moments, for a few 16-ounce iced vanilla lattes, what bliss.

Maybe the millennials were on to something.


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About the Contributors
Edie Raines, Copy Editor
Edie Raines is a copy editor at the Daily Utah Chronicle and used to be an arts writer. They are pursuing a degree in English and French at the U.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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