Not your average coffee spot: The Nook
Since its opening in 2013, The Nook has been serving up delicious coffee and an assortment of other treats to students.
The campus coffee shop offers an alternative to the many Starbucks present on campus, but the difference doesn’t just stop at the taste.
One of the things that sets The Nook apart from Starbucks is the atmosphere and the focus of the chain.
“I love the atmosphere in comparison to Starbucks,” business senior Hugo Salinas said. “It’s a lot more personal.”
Manny Martinez, a barista at The Nook, sees it as a special kind of place on campus.
“I feel like it’s a place to go for students who don’t really have a place to go,” Martinez said. “We get a good mix of people like that.”
Finance junior Nathan Kennard was skeptical about The Nook at first, but has since changed his mind.
“I had never been here until this summer,” Kennard said. “Just the name of it kind of made me think it was going to be grungy or gimmicky. I thought it was going to be lame, but it’s not.”
One of the perks of The Nook is it serves as an alternative study spot to some of the more traditional places on campus, and serves as a better environment for it as well, some think.
Piano performance junior Sonya Bandouil finds The Nook as a welcome change from studying at the Moores School of Music.
“It’s a creative and welcoming atmosphere,” Bandouil said. “It’s really a great place to come throughout the day, whether you want to catch up with friends or study for an exam.”
Salinas said that while it may be a good environment for studying and visiting, it may not be the best location for cramming for your final.
“It depends on what you’re studying,” Salinas said. “If it’s something that takes a bit more than memorization, it’s not the best because there is a lot of background noise.”
A consensus among people who visit The Nook is that one of its bright spots is the friendly service.
“The employees are extremely attentive and friendly,” Bandouil said. “I would say more so than at the Starbucks cafes I’ve been too.”
While it may not be his favorite coffee shop he’s ever been to, Kennard really appreciates the attitude of the staff.
One thing that Martinez has noticed in his time working at The Nook is how the customers that visit reflect the large and varied demographic of the student body.
“It’s very diverse, just like campus,” Martinez said. “It’s awesome.”
Bandouil said she enjoys the wide variety of people that frequent The Nook, and that it feels like home for her.
“I know I can just come in at any time and sit for a few hours at a time, doing what I want,” Bandouil said. “The people there are generally very welcoming, I have met quite a few friends there with similar interests as myself.”
One of the key components of The Nook’s atmosphere is to serve as a welcoming environment for art of any kind.
The walls are lined with a large number of paintings, water-colors, pencil drawings and art of all sorts.
The Nook also hosts weekly live performances from music acts in-store, as well as weekly movie screenings of films such as “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Exorcism,” catering to all kinds of movie fanatics.
“We try to gear toward students,” Martinez said. “A lot of the art we have is from students here at UH, same thing with the music performances we have.”
Bandouil said that The Nook serving as an artistic outlet is one of the things she loves most about it.
“I have attended a music show to see my friend who was playing, and it was a great experience,” Bandouil said. “It’s wonderful seeing this coffee shop give young artists a chance to showcase their talents.”
While the artistic culture fostered by The Nook is great to some, Kennard admits that he goes more for the coffee than for cultural enrichment.
“I don’t think I would go to any of the music shows because I’m on campus enough already,” Kennard said. “If I’m going to go to something like that, I’d go somewhere to a different place.”
Salinas admitted that while he isn’t the biggest appreciator of art either, he feels more connected to it than some of the other art on campus.
“I like the fact that they do have art,” Salinas said. “It adds some variation to just going to some of the buildings and seeing some random modern art that just looks boring.”
Students may have a range of reasons why they visit The Nook, but Martinez thinks that it comes down to two simple reasons.
“We have rad coffee and we’re awesome,” Martinez said.