Unsung heroes: Patrick Coffee
It’s 7:30 in the morning. The smell of coffee hangs in the air. Under The Max, students begin arriving at Einstein Bros. Bagels for their morning food and drink. The smiling man behind the counter tells every student to “have a nice day” as they receive their coffees.
Patrick Coffee, assistant manager at Einstein Bros. Bagels, welcomes each student by the name that pops up when they swipe their Bobcat cards.
“Every time I go to Einstein’s, Coffee is always smiling and brightening my day,” said sophomore Meredith Collier, a history major.
Megan Pike, an exercise science major, said she feels the same.
“I don’t get coffee much on campus, but when I do, I often go to Einstein’s because of the environment there,” Pike said. “I think a lot of the environment is because of the upbeat person that Coffee is.”
Coffee said one of his favorite aspects of his job is his interactions with students.
“One reason I stay at Einstein’s is because of the students,” Coffee said. “Learning about and meeting new people is something I really enjoy and a major reason I love my job.”
Coffee said his daughter and the students at GC are his inspiration and the reason he continues working at his job.
“Whenever someone eats my food, it makes me happy, and I’ve learned a lot from talking to different students and interacting with them on a daily basis,” Coffee said. “Micah Davis was a nursing major who graduated a few years back, but when I still worked at the Village Market on West Campus, he was a regular and would come in when he knew I was working. He motivated me and kept me afloat during rough times in my life.”
Davis wasn’t the only student that had an impact on him. One day, Coffee said, a girl came in and ordered her coffee and bagel while looking down.
“I walked up to her and asked her what was bothering her, and she said she had a test coming up and didn’t want to go home,” Coffee said. “After talking to her and trying to cheer her up, I left to get back to work. After that though, I noticed Leila started becoming a more frequent customer, and I knew that I had helped her.”
While Coffee doesn’t have much time to himself, between working at Einstein’s and Dairy Queen, he keeps busy with activities in his free time, like attending his church, Jordan Stream Baptist in Toomsboro, and educating himself.
“One of my favorite things to do is to watch the History Channel,” Coffee explained. “When I am home, the History Channel is on 24/7, unless a new episode of ‘The Simpsons’ is on.”
Coffee said he loves learning about history because it is so interesting, and he has recently taken an interest in the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust is fascinating to me because Hitler had so much power given to him by the people, and he could carry out the Holocaust and all the things he got away with,” Coffee said. “It really goes to show how much power words have over people.”
When he is not learning more about history, Coffee enjoys playing music.
“I first got into music in the sixth grade when my mom made me either get a job or do an after-school activity,” says Coffee. “Since I was only in sixth grade, I couldn’t get a job, so I had to do find something else to do, and that was music for me.
Coffee said he chose the trumpet because most of his favorite music involved trumpets, especially tunes by his inspiration: Louis Armstrong. He was first chair trumpet in his high school band during his senior year. Coffee even tried out for the music corps in the military, but ultimately did not get the position because he had not been able to practice between his two jobs.
However, Coffee kept up his spirits and moved on to his second love: cooking.
“I actually got a culinary degree from Kendall College,” Coffee said. “I love it when people eat my food and say it is delicious. It is like a pat on the back.”
Sometimes customers specifically ask for Coffee to cook their food, which he said makes him feel extra special.
“It’s such a nice feeling knowing that that person would prefer me to cook their food rather than someone else,” he said.
Coffee plans to continue cooking and revolving his future, after GC, around cooking. Once he retires, he plans to open a restaurant in the Milledgeville area.
“My mom had a restaurant, and I plan on doing the same and even keep the same name: ‘Pat’s Touch of Class,’” he said.
The restaurant would focus on what Coffee describes as “fine cuisine,” including soul food.
In the meantime, Coffee also has some advice for students at GC who are thinking about taking a break from college.
“I see a lot of students walk through Einstein’s and talk about maybe taking a break from school for a year or two,” Coffee explained. “I think that’s a terrible idea because once you stop, it takes a lot more to get going again. It takes a lot more dedication to start up school again after a break than it is to continue till a degree. Also, after the break you have basically hit a reset button and have to retrain yourself how to study and time management all over again, and that can be avoided if you stay in school.”
Coffee speaks from experience, since he is currently pursuing another degree in management from Central Georgia Tech, after which he hopes to become manager at Einstein’s.