May 15, 2016

Mann v. Olin: Café Battle

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Finals are coming! There is work to be done!

More importantly, however, there is food to be eaten. It’s May, so you are probably reading this in a library, on the grass right outside a library, on your way to a library or in your room contemplating which library you should go to. The choice is not always so clear. Uris Library advertises a Harry Potter-esque room, while the Fine Arts library possesses the loftiness of high culture (as well as being on the third floor). Yet with your patience at its lowest point of the year and your need to take care of your stomach in the aftermath of Slope Day, the library decision comes down to one main component: food.

With two libraries boasting practical, in-house cafés, Olin and Mann, the choice boils down to which café is better. I understand the frustration of waiting on your final grade without knowing how it will be calculated, so here are the three features I will be using to grade the cafés. First: aura. Vibe. The feeling you get when you walk into a room. Second: payment options. We have to pay for the food, so I have to take into account whether or not the prices are sensible. Third: food items. Obviously, the food available for consumption is essential. So, without further ado, the mid-May event you have all been waiting for: the Café Battle.

In the red corner, wearing black trunks, we have Manndible café, the hard-hitting hipster hotspot. In the blue corner, Amit Bhatia Libe Café stands taller than its name is long, sporting green trunks and a nice view of the Arts Quad.

Round One: Ambiance
Walking into Manndible feels empty and lonely. Very rarely are there crowds of people wandering around waiting for tables or chairs to open up. Despite this lack of action, the lines for the register are almost always irritatingly long. Yet there is also a coziness to this joint, thanks to a burrito bar and handwritten signs, and homemade items. The occasional Nasty’s-esque name call-out is also present, which simply brings back the memories of late-night food runs on North campus.

Walk into Libe and you immediately hear the buzz of chatter. Tables and comfortable cushiony seats are often unavailable and somehow, Libe’s lines are even longer than Manndible’s, but mentally going through your to-do list usually takes up the entire wait.

Libe with the edge: 10-9.

Round Two: Payment
Money, money, money, always funny, in a Cornell student’s world. Manndible offers low prices on almost everything. Even their breakfast specials stay below $10. A baked good with coffee won’t cost more than it will at any other outrageously-priced café on campus thanks to Manndible’s good, old locally-owned-ness. But unfortunately, this means you can’t pay with BRBs.

On the other hand, Libe is part of Cornell’s own raise-everything-on-campus-price initiative. Go here for a snack everyday, and your BRBs will be gone before you can say “Amit Bhatia Libe Café.” But considering its selection, the prices aren’t Trillium bad.

Manndible takes this one 10-9.

Round Three: Food
Both cafés offer a large assortment of baked goods.

At Manndible, they are homemade masterpieces, baked with care and love. The mint chocolate brownies seamlessly combine these two elements, each bite offering a cool, rich sensation. Their bagels are equally as sensational. Rosemary salt, my favorite of the bunch, when toasted and smeared with cream cheese, is savory and creamy, crunchy and soft all at once. An Izze drink creates the perfect snack. Manndible also has a burrito bar.

Libe has Starbucks. Yeah, that’s right, Frappuccinos with whipped cream. The traditional Cornell baked goods in the counter window, my beloved cinnamon buns, sticky and sweet, call out to me whenever I order. There is also sushi in the fridge, made everyday at Cornell; this snack I find packs a protein boost necessary for studying, and the spicy tuna option adds a kick the heightens my senses.

A strong right has Libe reeling: Mandibles 10-8.

You’re probably thinking Manndible has this in the bag. Well, just like that one professor, I’m going to add an element to my grading scheme right before the semester ends: the procrastination to deliciousness ratio. This is an essential metric to take into account, as libraries are for working, not just eating.

To calculate, I will give each café a deliciousness score out of 100, based on my (and my compatriots’) experiences dining there. This score is a composite score of the previous three rounds, scaled to be out of 100. I will then assign each library a procrastination score, also out of 100. This score refers to the amount of work one does compared to the amount of work one plans to do when studying in each library (A high score means a low amount of work done compared to work planned to do). The higher the ratio, the better the library. Essentially, this ratio comes out to be:

The following table contains my findings:

Library/Café Deliciousness Work Done Work Planned Final Score
Mann 96.66666667 85 100 82.16666667
Olin 90 90 100 81

Thus, in this close battle, Mann has won out. Contemplate no longer, Cornellians — head over to Mann library, each some food and pass your finals!