Former Java City location annexed by U.K. invader Grumpy Mule


Formerly housing Java City, the library breezeway is the U.K. coffee franchise’s first U.S. location, which brewed up its first cup of joe at Sac State on Friday, Aug. 26. [Photo by Diana Rykun]

Claire Morgan

Sacramento State students returning to campus for first day of the new fall semester were shocked to see that the Java City in the Library Quad has been replaced by a different coffee brand unfamiliar to Americans who have never crossed the pond.

Founded in 2006, Grumpy Mule, a United Kingdom-based coffee chain that specializes in espresso drinks, latte art, and handmade syrups and flavorings, opened its first U.S. location at Sac State on Aug. 26. The opening ended up causing confusion and amazement among many frequent Java City drinkers.

Grumpy Mule named itself after the mules that carried coffee beans. After carrying heavy loads of beans from high altitude, up and down all day long, the mules often became grumpy, hence the name ‘Grumpy Mule’.

Heather Schaller, a senior forensic biology major and shift supervisor at Grumpy Mule, EcoGrounds, and Java City, said that a latte artist was flown in from Grumpy Mule’s motherland to specially train employees.

“At Grumpy Mule, we make our own whipped cream [and] chocolate sauce,” Schaller said. “It’s a lot more work, but it kind of makes it feel like you’re more of a barista.”

Many students were unaware of the change from Java City to Grumpy Mule, including Joseph Silas, a junior studying child development.

“I didn’t know they changed it, and [it seems like] there are [fewer] items,” Silas said. “I think that this could possibly be the new coffee spot on campus and that the students here could make it this way, instead of everyone just going to Starbucks.”

Some students, including sophomore civil engineering major Everardo Chavez, are happy to see the change.  “I like it more than Java [City],” Chavez said. “It’s great, today was my first day there; I got a caramel frappe and it was delicious.”

Steven Davis, director of dining services, is a leader in innovating Sac State’s dining experience.  Davis, who also helped bring the Starbucks truck in front of Benicia Hall to campus this semester, has been brewing for Grumpy Mule’s U.S. debut for a while and all that was left was for students to try the concoctions.

The dining services team was exploring options to replace Java City, so when the unique opportunity of Grumpy Mule making its premiere in North America presented itself, the team decided to take it.

Paloma Salazar, employee of both Grumpy Mule and Java City, said this new addition to the list of many coffee franchises on campus has completely changed her work experience.

“I can totally see it being more coffee-based, more espresso and [less tea], even if the menu has been narrowed down,” Salazar said.
Java City drinkers shouldn’t worry, though, because the roundhouse in front of Lassen Hall and another location inside The Buzz are still open.

Additional reporting by Eva Hoch.