Jada Washington walks into a small, local coffee shop and immediately feels a sense of belonging. After receiving help from the loving barista on what to order, she chooses what table in the building will be her designated rest stop. As she sits, she watches a variety of students walk in and out of the shop, each one different from the last.
More students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have turned their focus towards local coffee shops, mostly owned by Christians, to spend their time. Washington, a sophomore studying general studies at UL Lafayette said that she feels known and loved when she visits this coffee shop.
“The Rêve coffee shop has so much of everything I need: convenience, caffeine, Jesus, a rest stop and community. It gives an opportunity for college students to get great authentic coffee in an atmosphere that is open to allow people to get outside of the busy life of a college student, which can be very stressful,” said Washington.
Whether it be for the convenience, the taste or even the atmosphere, students have recently sparked an interest in unique coffee shops around the Lafayette area. One coffee shop in particular being Rêve Coffee Roasters, which has many different locations, with its most important popular shop being the one located in downtown Lafayette.
Amelia LaFleur, a senior studying journalism at UL Lafayette, said, “I used to go to Rêve at least three times a week, and I still go frequently. I have acquired the taste of absolute gold.” LaFleur said. She also said that she was drawn in by the variety of blends that Rêve sells.
Although taste and convenience both play a major role in students’ reasoning for visiting these local coffee shops, it definitely is not the only reason. LaFleur said that knowing that she and the owner of the coffee shops have similar religious beliefs fascinates her.
“Rêve being owned by a Christian is really cool. I would not necessarily say that it is the only reason why I go, but I do notice that it is very interesting and nice to see that this person has the same values as I do,” LaFleur said.
Nathanael Johnson, owner of Rêve Coffee Roasters, said that he believes that his shops are successful in creating an open environment for students to be transparent with one another and express their faith and beliefs, no matter what religion or belief they claim.
” We are not a Christian coffee shop. We are a coffee shop owned by Christians,” Johnson said.
Even with Johnson’s strong personal beliefs, he still never lets this create an exclusive environment for his customers. He said that his business is open for everybody and anybody.
He said, “We have events across the board, whether it is a Christian event or not. I will never get to the point where I have just Christian events. We are a business and we will conduct ourselves as so.”
Students seem to not take offense to Johnson and his personal beliefs. In fact, according to Washington, Rêve supplies an environment that is considered inclusive to individuals of all backgrounds.
Washington said, “I have seen many walks of life walk through Rêve and it honestly is something that warms my heart. It feels like we are a united family.”
Although merging his personal beliefs with his business is not intentional, it still sometimes seems to happen within the walls of Johnson’s businesses.
“Christianity is not a hobby, it is my life. It is who I am, so it definitely bleeds in some way, shape, or form into my business. I do not push it down people’s throat, but it will come out at some point,” Johnson said.
Both Washington and LaFleur said that they would highly recommend any Rêve location to their friends, as well as other UL Lafayette students who are looking for places where they can buy coffee and be in a warm and including environment.
“Rêve is definitely a great place to go for college students…a nice cup of coffee can help create conversation. It helps you become comfortable and be open to enriching your life in some way,” LaFleur said.