The sound of flipping newspaper pages can be heard very faintly beneath the thunderous clap of a grinding blender. Faces are hidden behind various sorts of reading materials.Faster and faster now, the blender gets close to the finish line. The sound has reached its end and The Cranberries coming from the radio can now be distinguished clearly.
Another smiling customer receives her smoothie.
At Castleton’s Coffee Cottage there is something for everyone. Not just one flavor of Green Mountain Coffee, six or seven.
Jessica Palmer, a senior at CSC, prefers hazelnut.
“I’m here a lot,” she said. “I come in mostly because it’s quiet and comfortable.”
That’s precisely what President David Wolk intended when he came to the college in the Fall of 2001. He walked into the building and saw a wasted room filled with old computers.
“It was apparent we needed a casual place for faculty and students to interact,” Wolk said.
Chrispin White is Castleton’s director of community service and internships. His office is located right above the Coffee Cottage, so he stops in just about every day.
And why shouldn’t he? He, along with President Wolk, was on the committee that created the Cottage.
“The vision was to create something on this side of campus to increase interaction of students, staff and administrators,” said White, armed with a roast beef sandwich and a yellow Sobe. “What we’ve created has worked well.”
Meet Darla, Trena and Kari
Regardless of who walks through that door, the ladies working are armed with a smile.
“The women are wonderful,” Wolk said.
The staples are Darla Patch, Trena Kudela and Kari Ball. All three enjoy their work environment very much.
“It’s a homey atmosphere,” Patch said. “I enjoy seeing the faculty and students every day.”
Patch, who is going into her 20th year with the college, works in the Coffee Cottage rather than in the admissions office. But without admission statistics, she knows Castleton has “a lot of commuter students.”
One such commuter calling the Coffee Cottage her home base on campus is Teresa Messenger. She drives from Weybridge, near Middlebury. So she spends six hours a week with Darla, Trena and Kari.
“They’re the best,” Messenger said. “I bring my kids in and they talk to the ladies.”
If the ladies of the Coffee Cottage are the best thing in that little white building, the Heart Thrive Vegan Energy Bars just might be the worst.
“They’re gross,” Messenger said. “Give me a chocolate chip cookie any day. Those things taste like sawdust.”
Laughter immediately emerges above the loud blender.
“Dog biscuits,” Kudela said.
How about smoothie?
As spring heats up, the demand for smoothies coincides with the rising mercury on the thermometer. And the ladies are ready for it.
“When the weather starts getting warmer the smoothies start flying out the door,” Ball said.
The consensus is that anything with raspberry in it is most popular among the Coffee Cottage’s loyal clientele.
When asked if they ever got a free smoothie while working, a rye smile broke out across the face of Kudela. She took one quick gulp of her purple icy beverage and held it up.
“Yeah,” she said. “Every time we make a mistake.