AJ’s offers new fall flavors, including Cin­namon Brown Sugar, Pumpkin Spice, and Maple Spice lattes. | Courtesy Isabella Redjai

AJ’s Café is wel­coming chilly weather and exciting new drink and food options to com­plement the coming fall season, ranging from kom­bucha to the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte, simply called the “PSL.”

Within the next month, AJ’s Café will be offering autumn-inspired lattes, including a Cin­namon Brown Sugar, Pumpkin Spice, and Maple Spiced latte, hot apple cider, locally-pro­duced kom­bucha, and, with the arrival of a new machine, nitrogen cold brew. 

“Some of the new offerings at AJ’s include Numi Fair Trade golden milk lattes, Zingerman’s candy, nitro cold brew, and assorted new drinks and snacks, like Dasani sparkling water or new vari­eties of Kind bars and beef jerky,” Mar­keting Coor­di­nator for Bon Appétit William Persson said. “Part of these changes are in response to student feedback we received requesting more options. Another facet of the intro­duction of some of the items is our ded­i­cation to pur­chase locally-sourced goods.”

With a focus on local goods, Persson said most of the new syrups including the lavender and pumpkin syrups at AJ’s and Jitters located in Lane Hall are all pro­duced in-house. Bon Appetit AJ’s Super­visor Lisa York gathers natural ingre­dients and makes the syrups herself.    

“Guest sat­is­faction is our primary goal and we have to make sure our offerings are con­tin­ually rel­evant to our guests,” General Manager of Bon Appétit David Apthorpe said. “Further, we find that in order to increase sat­is­faction we have to disrupt the expected and present our guests with expe­ri­ences and choices that they may have not had before. As our part­nership with the college has matured, we have a better under­standing of what may res­onate with our guests and we’re hopeful that these new items hit that mark.”

Bon Appétit’s moti­vation behind the new influx of products and food options is solely for the sake of the stu­dents they serve.

“We’re trying to get a variety, and that’s what spe­cials are all about,” AJ’s Lead Super­visor Lisa Beasley said. “We want to give stu­dents some­thing dif­ferent so they don’t get bored with chicken tenders and fries.”

Recent spe­cials that reflect this “dis­ruption to the expected” include overeasy egg flat­bread pizzas and turmeric smoothies. Some of these spe­cials have proven suc­cessful, such as the turmeric golden milk lattes, which now remain as per­manent menu items.

“The golden milk lattes are crafted with Numi powders; Numi is a fair trade-cer­tified tea company that we provide in the Knorr Family Dining Room,” Persson said. “Our com­mitment to fair trade tea is company-wide, and it only made sense to introduce this new and trendy item to AJ’s and Jitters in a way that main­tains our com­mitment to do this.”

Many options have yet to be released since baristas and man­agers are making sure the products are fully-developed and mas­tered before serving them to stu­dents. 

With exper­i­men­tation with “trends” like foamy nitro coffee, which has the con­sis­tency rem­i­niscent of draft beer, Beasley says that, although true to the caf­feine-nature of AJ’s, it still proves unique to student cus­tomers.

“We’re trying to keep things exciting and inter­esting,” Beasley said. “When adding the nitrogen to the coffee, it’s sup­posed to make the drink smoother and sweeter. We’re still wanting to master the brew before we start selling it, but it’s coming out soon.”

Stu­dents are antic­i­pating the arrival of these new items and the oppor­tunity to try AJ’s fresh options, espe­cially as midterms draw near and healthier options are offered to combat the com­mencing flu season.

“The idea of AJ’s bringing nitro brew coffee and locally-sourced kom­bucha to campus is really exciting,” sophomore Anna Katherine Daley said. “Just because we live in rural Michigan, doesn’t mean we can’t have access to the latest food and drink trends.”

The kom­bucha is sourced from a vendor called Sacred Springs, located in Grand Rapids, MI. Persson said this rela­tionship with Sacred Springs is new, and Bon Appétit would have con­sidered imple­menting kom­bucha as a drink option earlier but decided to “go the extra step and make it a local product.”

“With kom­bucha espe­cially, not only is it deli­cious and refreshing, but it’s also good for your immune system,” Daley said. “Maybe if we have everyone get some kom­bucha and a flu shot, we can avoid a flu epi­demic like last year!”

AJ’s staff is also planning to add other items in the months to come.

“Coming soon to an AJ’s near you: pos­sibly more ver­sions of Zingerman’s candy, new Grab ‘n’ Go options, and locally baked goods,” Persson said.