Photo Credit: McKenzie Rugo

What’s Going Down Underground?

Stepping off the elevator on the third floor of the Viking Union at Western Washington University, you will find yourself breathing in the strong smell of freshly brewed coffee. As you walk closer to the open, inviting doors of The Underground Coffeehouse, your ears are assaulted by hip, new music playing softly in the background. I typically grab myself a comfy Chai Tea Latte with no whip and kick my feet up on one of the squishy, used couches, if I am so lucky to find an open seat. Silence is not something you will find here. Between soft, music and chatter floating around in the background, the café is definitely meant for socializing. This coffeehouse provides a cozy environment for dates, studying, or just hanging out with hot coffee in your hand. If you are looking to visit, you better grab your rain jacket because The Underground Coffeehouse is a trendy coffeehouse in the rainy, green land of Bellingham, Washington. Western Washington University is a university stuck in the far upper left corner of the United States. Rain plus hipsters have groomed the people of Bellingham to know fabulous coffee. Every Pacific Northwesterner considers themselves a coffee aficionado. I chose the photo below because I, as a coffee pro, personally love the Chai Tea Latte served at The Underground Coffeehouse.

[A Latte from the Underground Coffeehouse- Photo Credit: Jennifer Schafer]

Any time of day you will find Western Washington University students, past or present, there enjoying coffee and music. This cafe is more than just a place that serves fancy flavored coffees. The Underground Coffeehouse delivers coffee with side of live performances. Typically if you come anytime after six at night, you will be delivered a delicious performance. These acts range from open mic night on Tuesdays, live band on Wednesday, poetry on Thursdays, and other shows. The purpose is to allow students to indulge in coffee and performances, and they do an excellent job at providing both to the students attending Western Washington University. The atmosphere is perfect for studying during the day if you want a quiet public place to read while sipping on that latte.

If you walk down to Zoe’s Bagels, located in the library at Western Washington University, you will find yourself at another coffeehouse at the University. Although these cafes are both trying to sell coffee, many would agree that the mood gives two different experiences. I like to say that Zoe’s Bagels is where I get my day coffee with a side of a bagel and The Underground Coffeehouse is where I get my night coffee with a side of music. Zoe’s Bagels is a traditional coffeehouse while The Underground Coffeehouse is less mainstream. This coffeehouse brings free entertainment and a simple, safe place to hang out. When I find myself at Zoe’s Bagels, my main priority is to study and get my work done, which is something I find myself doing in the laundry room. On the other hand, The Underground Coffeehouse has entertainment not found in the mixing and rinsing of a washer. The entertainment includes bands, like the ones shown in the picture below.

[The Underground Coffeehouse stage with band (Band Unknown) — Photo Credit: AS Productions]

As a student at the University, I enjoy The Underground Coffeehouse because the café goes above and beyond supplying the exhausted, stressed out, and overworked people of Western Washington University their coffee, and I am not the only person who agrees. As I searched for more reviews about the Underground Coffeehouse, I found Facebook reviews about this café. The Underground Coffeehouse has received 4.4 stars on Facebook and several comments about coffee and vibe. Jeff Youngblood comments on The Underground Coffeehouse’s review section,

“The Underground is a cozy place to study, to drink your daily dose of caffeine, and to meet with friends. This place is a favorite among many who attend WWU.”

Another student, Fallon Patterson, just simply said,

“Lavender syrup.”

Which I am assuming is a good review because followed was a comment left by Diana Cervantes stating,

“A Lavender London Fog makes everything that much better.”

As I dove deeper into the reviews, I found one posted to Nathan Kosin wrote,

“The Underground Coffeehouse provides a safe haven for students to kick back and unwind from the stresses of college.”

Although I have never tried this lavender syrup which has been raved about, I am excited to take a detour down to The Underground Coffeehouse, and take a sip of a Lavender London Fog.

With an iced mocha on the tongue, students have the ability to escape, at least for a few hours, from all their work and enjoy that coffee. One issue I noticed throughout my time at The Underground Coffeehouse is how their stage and location do not always present a way for all bands to perform on the stage. Bands that have a drummer are really hard to listen to because the stage, and smallness of the room doesn’t allow for loud drummers, which can take away from the performers because they can not play their music as they would like. The act has a difficult time giving their audience the best show, and the crowd also has a tough time being on their best audience behavior. The smallness of the room makes the stage hard to see from certain positions throughout. Fixing this flaw would take away from the cozy feel of The Underground Coffeehouse, which would be a huge loss. There is always a give and take I suppose. Picture below is the small stage at The Underground Coffeehouse.

[The Underground Coffeehouse Stage- Photo Credit: McKenzie Rugo]

The Underground Coffeehouse is a comfortable, stylish coffeehouse that welcomes all types. If you love coffee and music, much like I do, I highly recommend stopping in, and listening to some musicians, poets, or bands. The Underground Coffeehouse is a gem hidden in the rocks. Not many Western Washington University students have made this their hangout place, which has helped create the intended vibe. This place is no overpriced, overly commercialized Starbucks. You will not find a Grande Java Chip Latte with extra soy, no chocolate, no java, no coffee, and your name spelled horribly wrong on the side of the cup for a whopping five dollars. If you want a fresh coffee and live music, take a tour to the third floor of the Viking Union and drop your behind on the cushions of the couch and relax.

Sources: Facebook Reviews on