Based on The New York Times’ “Metropolitan Diaries,” the Middletown Diaries features awkward, funny, novel, or sweet anecdotes, stories, and memories that happen at Wesleyan and in Middletown. To submit to the Middletown Diaries, please email



Dear Diary,

I believe that establishing one’s own caffeine patterns is essential to moving into a place, especially college. Personally, I believe caffeine is not optional in the college experience—rather, it is instrumental in determining whether or not I will have a good and productive day. There is a certain security in knowing where one is able to get good coffee after a long night of work. 

Like so many other first years, I began this sojourn into the caffeine underworld at Wesleyan at the hub of so many other pertinent activities—Usdan. Back when I still ate breakfast at Usdan, I would occasionally get coffee with my meal. Aside from the occasional lack of flavor from the coffee, there was another problem—the coffee seemed to have been brewed in a way that always made it hotter than the fiery pits of hell. The amount of burns I got on my mouth from that coffee was ridiculous. 

Now that I am on my fourth (or fifth? I can’t really remember) week of college, my resolve has weakened. I need coffee every day. I want iced coffee, and I don’t want to pay extra money to get it.

An editor from The Argus informed me that there is a cold-brew coffee station near the ice cream. Excited to sample this wonderful solution, I went over to it, only to discover that it was empty. According to my sources, this occurs rather often, and even when there is cold brew coffee to be found, it tastes like gasoline. Although I did not sample the aforementioned product for myself, I trusted the integrity of my sources. So my mission continued. 

After days and days of investigation into this momentous topic, I concluded that there are a variety of ways one can fulfill a desire for iced coffee in the dining hall. Here are the main paths one can take into the world of iced coffee and iced-coffee-adjacent beverages at Usdan: 

  1. The Basic: The traditional, old standby for making iced coffee. Basically, you pour hot coffee over a ton of ice and add as much sugar and milk as you want. This is a very simple way to do it; however, the quality is not very good. Every time I’ve done it, I’ve ended up with a lot of very watery, lukewarm coffee. Good if you really need it in the moment, not the best decision if you’re looking for flavor. 
  2. The Epicurean: Get a hot coffee cup, and fill it up three-quarters of the way with coffee. Then, add a scoop of ice cream (you can really go crazy with this. Chocolate? Of course. Maple? Delicious! Sweet corn? Sounds great!) and as much ice as you want. It’s definitely not for those on a diet, nor for everyday. But if you’re looking for a delicious innovation to get you through a mundane afternoon, this variation on the affogato is for you!
  3. The DIY: If you have a lot of free time, you could put hot coffee in your to-go cup and bring it back to your room and put in your fridge. This could be enough, but if you’re feeling really fancy and have some spare ice cube trays, you could freeze the coffee into ice cubes and always have iced coffee on the go. Wow! Fancy! If you have the time and/or the willpower to do this, I would guess that you are pretty extra. 
  4. The cop-out: Buy iced coffee from the Usdan café. Easy, but not the most creative. Definitely the best if you’re looking for quality, but not the most cost-effective. 

– Annika Shiffer-Delegard


Dear Diary, 

Is there a more quintessentially Wesleyan experience than encountering the deafening silence of a full Espwesso for the first time? When I arrived on campus as a transfer last fall, I was deprived of friends, caffeine, and an understanding of the elusive Wesleyan culture I had read so much about in the Wesleying Pre-Orientation series. Luckily, it was in my deep dive into the Wesleying ethnography that I first heard of Espwesso, the mythical student-run café located in the basement of Allbritton. This coveted location is great for students running between classes and also pretty difficult to find on Google Maps for first-time visitors, so as I looked from the map on my phone to the building I had understood to be full of classrooms and back again, I must have exuded an energy which exposed me as someone who did not know where she was going, as it wasn’t long before an upperclassman stopped and offered to help. 

By the time I arrived in the building, I was under the impression it was empty—after all, the basement was submerged in an almost eerie silence. No Mitski played from the stereo in the café, no bustling or clanking of mugs. I must have misheard the directions. 

Being theoretically alone, I softly hummed a song that had been stuck in my head since the previous day, poking my head in the various classrooms. Well, softly might be a bit of an exaggeration; it was a good song, it had been a long week. So, it obviously gave me quite a start when, obliviously, I wandered into the student café and was met with more than a dozen pairs of eyes, staring at me in a mixture of surprise, pity, and hostility over the screens of laptops and behind the covers of books. I can’t say I recovered from my embarrassment smoothly, rather turning a bright shade of cardinal crimson and stammering: “Sorry, I was just really excited for coffee.” As I’ve become more acquainted with the norms and joys of Espwesso, I look back on that day as some form of initiation into undoubtedly the best coffee ritual on campus. 

– Sara McCrea

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