A Warm Welcome: The Donkey Coffee Experience

Donkey Coffee is known for its fair-trade coffee, but the joint offers much more. Sure, there are locally sourced goodies to snack on and intriguing music to listen to, but there are so many additional, enriching experiences to be had in this coffee shop.

At any given moment, you might hear a laugh shared among friends. Guidance is given to confused students from wiser, older professors. Greetings are frequently exchanged between strangers.

“It is so nice to meet you!” a college-aged man says to a beaming young woman. A couple snuggled into a couch interrupts its quiet conversation with a quick, sweet kiss. A young woman grins widely, and eagerly waves to an apparent friend who just walked in the room.

While ordering coffee, it is easy to notice the over-flowing tip jar, evidence of the excellent service from the friendly baristas. Conversations strike between customers and workers. This often stalls the movement of the line, but no one seems to mind.

A lingering smell of warm bodies and hot, freshly roasted coffee fills the building. Visitors shuffle in and out through the day, the evening, and into the night. Often there are people wandering each room, searching for an empty seat.

The couches are well worn in. The wooden tables are stained and the chairs are scratched. Mismatched lamps placed sporadically throughout the rooms give all 4,000 square feet of Donkey a warm glow. The alternative music flowing through the speakers sets a calming mood. The cozy atmosphere in the shop lends itself to studying. Each table provides a sanctuary for studious college kids. They type swiftly and furrow their brows in concentration. It is hard to find this amount of effort and dedication toward school work at any other coffee shop in Athens.

When students are tired from studying, their glazed-over eyes are refreshed as they scan the walls in Donkey. Artwork dangles from office clips and thin string. Collages and descriptions provide alternative learning opportunities, or distractions. Framed quotations offer inspiration and advice.

In the evenings, Donkey is bustling. Some nights, there are movies projected onto the stage area. Other nights, aspiring comedians or any average Joe with an extra funny bone can take the stage and test some jokes on the crowd. Poets, writers, and speakers express their talent and their emotions during “Designated Space” on Tuesday nights.

The stage also welcomes musicians of all skill levels, from “beginners to professionals” a sign boasts. Every Thursday night, starting at 8 p.m., local musicians take over the back room and impress the crowd with a variety of melodic sounds. They are rewarded with claps, high-fives, and kind words as they recede from the stage.

These artists and performers certainly use Donkey’s stage to entertain, but they also use the intimate venue to fulfill aspirations and reach toward their dreams.

I stopped in for a cup of fair-trade coffee. I stayed to study for a quiz, and to write up something interesting about this “hipster” coffee shop. I stayed longer for the local talent. I left with a refreshing experience that turned this shop into a second home for me.


Cover photo from eventsfy.com

Read more about Donkey here.