Camino offers superior ZSR experience


Ansley Mcneel, Staff Columnist

Earlier this year, Wake Forest made the bold decision to remove the ZSR Starbucks and replace it with a local coffeeshop: Camino Bakery. If you are like me and had never heard of Camino Bakery before this year, the news may have upset you greatly. What would ZSR Library be like without the comfort of knowing that a delicious drink was only moments away during a study session? Thank goodness nothing had to change, as Camino Bakery never fails to please the tastebuds. Not only is it just as delicious as Starbucks, I argue that Camino’s coffee and treats are even better. 

Gone is the overwhelming menu that I have always feared at Starbucks: with so many options for drink possibilities, it was easy to accidentally concoct your own creation that was far from satisfactory. While it is true that variety is important in order to be appealing to a wide array of coffee drinkers, Starbucks takes this freedom too far. When confronted with an amount of options so great that the consumer cannot remember which ones they have tried before, this degree of variety actually ends up limiting the number of different drinks one will try. Personally, I found myself ordering the same boring drink over and over again once I found one that I liked. 

At Camino, there are great varieties of options without reaching a number that is overwhelming. Additionally, right when I thought I had tried all of the unique flavors that Camino has to offer, they released their autumn menu. Some highlights include pumpkin, salted toffee, maple magical and french toast house made syrups. These seasonal drinks, in addition to the unique year-round offerings such as lavender and “magical” syrups, keep me a loyal customer who never regrets her morning coffee run to ZSR. 

There is also an appeal to Camino that Starbucks simply cannot compete with — Camino Bakery uses North Carolina roasted coffee and their flavored syrups are only available in store. First, one has a feeling of being more in a coffeeshop than a chain. That adds to the coffee-consuming experience, as many coffee-drinkers like myself enjoy the ambiance that usually accompanies a smaller shop. Second, students of Wake Forest only have so many years to enjoy Camino’s coffee and treats, provided that each of Camino’s locations are in Winston-Salem. Graduates of Wake Forest who end up leaving Winston-Salem would then have to start buying coffee at places like Starbucks by default. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where many local restaurants and coffeeshops could not reopen, going to a local place like Camino Bakery feels even more special. Even in the height of the pandemic, coffee lovers could go to Starbucks drive through services. In contrast, quality coffee from local haunts like Camino Bakery was next to impossible to obtain from March through July. Again, this makes Camino Bakery coffee more of a treat than a Starbucks coffee. 

Camino offers 21 flavors of tea, not including their autumn additions of the apple cap and sleepy hollow teas.

And about teas? It gets even better. Camino offers 21 flavors of tea, not including their autumn additions of the “Apple Cap” and “Sleepy Hollow” teas. Although this seems overwhelming, the teas are broken down in their menu according to type (green, black, herbal, fruit, mate). This careful organization helps sort and narrow down options further to find the exact tea for your mood.  

The only arena where Starbucks defeats Camino is price: Starbucks charges 25 cents less for a vanilla latte than Camino. However, this small price difference is worth it, especially for consumers who may not be getting coffee every day and considering their purchase as more of a treat than a daily essential. 

With all of these thoughts in mind, Camino wins the battle for best coffeeshop that has resided in ZSR Library in recent years.