Cougar Grounds serves up a home away from home, one cup at a time
Inside of Cougar Grounds, the smell of nutmeg and roasted coffee beans welcomes students to enjoy a cup of joe. Just as welcoming: the student employees serving the coffee.
Cougar Grounds is attached to the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and is a common place of employment for hotel and restaurant management students.
“I started working here because I love coffee, and I feel like this is the best coffee on campus,” said HRM junior Vicky Avetisyan. “And I like the atmosphere here too, it’s very homey.”
Avetisyan has worked at Cougar Grounds for two and a half years, and has loved her experience there.
“This is the best first job I could ever ask for,” Avetisyan said. “I love it, I would not be here for two and a half years if I didn’t love it.”
Avetisyan said a typical day for a Cougar Grounds employee consists of a few different tasks: including taking orders, customer service, making coffee and cleaning up at the end of the day.
They also keep track of drink trends such as popular seasonal flavors. Last month, Cougar Grounds was offering their own version of a pumpkin spice latte.
“I always drink an almond milk latte, hot or iced, and it’s my favorite thing to make, because I love practicing latte art,” said HRM sophomore Wen Wang said, who works at the coffee shop.
The workers aren’t required to learn how to do latte art to work at Cougar Grounds, Wang said. However, herself and others practice on their own and learn the art by making a lot of drinks.
Wang said one of her favorite work memories at Cougar Grounds was practicing the latte art with her friends and coworkers when the shop is not as busy.
She started working at Cougar Grounds a year ago because one of her friends applied, and she saw it as a great opportunity.
“We serve everything and we do everything that other coffee shops do,” Wang said. “I’m not going to say it’s easier or harder because it’s the same amount of work.”
HRM sophomore Carlee Grimes also applied for the job because of encouragement from her peers, and she has been grateful for the opportunity ever since.
“My friends told me that I should apply because it’s really easy to work with my schedule, and I’m so glad I did because I have so much fun doing it.” Grimes said.
Grimes has worked at Cougar Grounds since the beginning of the fall semester, and said her work schedule balances well with her school schedule. Her hours are flexible, and she has enough time after her shifts to study.
“Our hours don’t run into the evening, so you don’t lose that time in the evening to do your homework,” Grimes said. “It’s very flexible, if I have a four-hour gap between classes, that’s when I’ll work.”
Grimes said she enjoys working at both of the shop’s locations: the main location at the Hilton College and the other as a part of the College of Optometry.
“You kind of get a different atmosphere depending on which one you work at that day,” Grimes said. “It’s all good experience and all good practice for somebody in a hospitality major to interact with customers.”
Wang said while most of the workers come from the Hilton College, the coffee shop is open to hiring other majors.
“It’s a small college, so everyone already knew each other,” said Wang. “Working here is like working in a small friend’s group. I really enjoy working with my co-workers.”