Nestled within the campus of University of Washington Tacoma, Metro Coffee is located at the center of the university, offering a warm and inviting space to grab a drink and take a seat. Metro is the perfect spot to catch up on work away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Tacoma or have a chat with friends — all while enjoying a tasty cup of joe of course!

When Metro Coffee opened in 2003, the UW Tacoma campus and downtown in general looked a bit different. But this coffee shop has grown with the area around it. As UW Tacoma has expanded, the quaint little shop has transitioned from being on the edge of campus, to being right smack in the middle of it.

Metro Coffee UW Tacoma
The building Metro Coffee is housed in is rented from UW Tacoma and is located in the middle of the campus. Photo credit: Meiling Sproger

Metro Coffee owner Stefani McCullough purchased the shop in 2009. After taking over from the original owners, she knew she had big shoes to fill. McCullough began working at Metro at the age of 21 as a part-time employee. When speaking about the original owners, Gwen Lewis-Kempe and Charlie Kempe, McCullough passionately explained the positive effect they had on her life by taking her under their wing when she needed some guidance.

“I loved the atmosphere they created there,” McCullough shared in regards to the previous owners. “People had incredible experiences there, maybe meeting their best friends there. It was family, it was community. I felt like it was something I needed to pursue.”

The brick building that provides Metro Coffee its home is rented from the university and is a spot that students and faculty frequent. A majority of Metro Coffee customers are regulars to the establishment, having found sanctuary within the comfort of the cozy building. This spot definitely has a different feel than your typical chain coffee stop.

The shop is furnished with interesting vintage furniture and decor. Vintage bikes line the walls, and unique items line the shelves and tables. The vibe of the space and the warm hospitality of the employees make this spot feel just like your own living room. McCullough describes this space as open, inviting and real.

Metro Coffee
Vintage items and art decorate the shelves of Metro Coffee, while vintage bikes hang on the walls. Photo credit: Meiling Sproger

“The community has rallied behind us on multiple occasions and we are so lucky for the support we’ve had over the years,” McCullough shared. “They have shown their support with petitions, fundraisers, hugs and appreciation. Its funny on the days when it all seems to be too much, someone will come in not even knowing what is happening behind the scenes and tell us how much Metro means to them.”

This coffee stop offers a simple menu of coffee, tea, snacks and pastries. They offer straight-forward drinks, along with options for the well-versed coffee connoisseur. From lattes to dirty chai tea — this coffee shop has all the necessary staples. They also offer a variety of dairy options and syrup flavorings. Their in-house cappuccino is a must try, and is one of their more popular drinks.

“A lot of people refer to us as the heart of the campus,” McCullough shared. “When we originally started, we were on the outskirts, and now the campus has grown around us and with us.”

To experience Metro Coffee for yourself, visit their location at 1901 Jefferson Avenue in Tacoma from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The shop is closed on both Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit Metro Coffee’s Facebook page.

“It is a small space with a lot of character,” McCullough said.

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