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Athens Rise and Grind Coffee food truck’s owner Brandon Buckley poses in front of his food truck on Court Street. Mon. January 22, 2023

Rise & Grind creates another local coffee option

With the addition of Athens' newest coffee option, a food truck called Rise & Grind, there will now be four local coffee restaurants along the uptown area. This not only creates more options for coffee connoisseurs, but also potentially creates local competition among business owners.

Rise & Grind is typically parked in front of Alumni Gateway at the intersection of Court Street and Union Street. However, to the left of the truck is Court Street Coffee, 67 S. Court St., past the intersection and straight ahead is Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, 38 S. Court St., and a four-minute walk north of the truck is Donkey Coffee, 17 ½ W. Washington St. 

The coffee truck serves flavored lattes and adding flavoring to the latte does not cost extra. A small costs $5, a large costs $5.50 and an extra large costs $6.50. Court Street Coffee’s prices vary slightly depending on the flavor of the latte, but for a small, hot vanilla latte it is $4, a regular is $4.50 and a large is $5; a regular-sized iced vanilla latte is $4.75 and a large-sized is $5.25. Small hot or cold lattes at Donkey all cost $4.15 and a large latte costs $4.65, but it’s an additional 50 cents to add flavoring.

Brandon Buckley, the owner of Rise & Grind, said he opened the coffee truck in May 2023 and parked it outside of O’Bleness Memorial Hospital, 55 Hospital Dr., Monday through Friday. He originally did not want to take his business to Athens’ uptown area, but he soon changed his mind when he heard some people wanted to take a coffee truck business uptown. 

“If I'm not going to go uptown, someone is,” Buckley said. 

Ultimately, Buckley decided to take his truck to the uptown area before losing out on the chance of another coffee truck going before him. 

“I'm really good friends with the owners of all the coffee shops up here, and I didn't want to compete with them,“ he said. "But when it was either someone else or me, I decided, it's going to be me. I'm not going to lose out on that opportunity.”

Clarissa Coldren, manager of Court Street Coffee, said each coffee shop uptown has their own clientele, so she doesn’t think there is much room for competition when each business appeals to different crowds. 

“I feel like each coffee shop has its own role in Athens,” Coldren said.

Sharing Coldren’s sentiment, Buckley said with the wide range of coffee shops around Athens, he noticed each place still stays busy. 

“I didn't want to come up to steal business,” Buckley said. “It was basically to give another option and be the first coffee truck uptown and hopefully the only coffee truck.”

Buckley said he thinks the students who enjoy a quick grab-n-go service will enjoy Rise & Grind. 

Even with the other coffee shops nearby, Buckley said he makes more profit parking uptown than he made at the hospital. 

“Our busiest day at O’Bleness … we are still doing at least five times that amount up here,” Buckley said. “Right now, with students in town, I do have to go where it's busy. We have developed a huge clientele up here.”

Brooke Shelley, a junior studying creative writing and a cafe trainer at Jefferson Market’s Steeped and Stirred, said since Rise & Grind is parked on a busy street, she thinks it helps attract people to the business. 

“It's in a little truck which I think is adorable, and it's new and it stands out,” Shelley said. 

Since Buckley has already had a surplus of profit since moving the truck, he is optimistic about expanding the company. He said he is discussing getting a coffee cart for inside events, including corporate events and conferences. Also, Buckley said with the amount of sales the truck is doing, he could possibly see building another truck in the future.


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