Starbucks arrives in Lexington at VMI, brews local curiosity

W&L students have crossed over to VMI’s campus to check out the addition of the world’s largest coffee chain

Maggie Barker

Starbucks-branded coffee and food is now being served in the Virginia Military Institute’s PX food court, bringing the popular, well-known chain to Lexington.

The “We Proudly Serve” location isn’t an officially licensed Starbucks, but W&L students like AP Smith, ‘20, that have crossed over to VMI’s campus said the coffee tastes the same.

“I don’t put anything in my coffee, so it was pretty easy to tell that it was Starbucks coffee,” said Smith.

Kelsey Anderson, ‘20, has visited the food court twice already. She said her grande caramel iced coffee tasted like it would have in an official Starbucks store.

“We’ve gotten a lot of out of school business since it opened from W&L students, local residents of Lexington, and people from Buena Vista and Glasgow that normally drive to Staunton for Starbucks,” said Warren Hill, an hourly supervisor at the PX.

Some W&L students who were unfamiliar with VMI’s campus were confused about the location, which is in the food court in the building with the clock, across the parade grounds.

Anderson said the employees were nice and friendly, but she didn’t quite feel like she was in a Starbucks because the branding is a mix of that of Starbucks and that of the existing VMI food court.

But once they arrived, Smith said the cafe employees were happy to see W&L students visiting.

“They asked us if we were from W&L, and when we said yes, they were really excited and told us to spread the word,” said Smith.

Both Anderson and Smith said they plan on frequently returning to VMI’s PX for their favorite Starbucks drinks.

Hill said there was not much controversy regarding business competition with the opening of the Proudly Serving Starbucks on VMI’s campus.

“It was more of an eventuality that was going to happen regardless because Starbucks is so popular,” said Hill. “Most of the cadets already wanted it.”

Hill said he doesn’t think it’s been a big adjustment for the staff of the PX. Starbucks employees trained them on the recipes and machinery.

“We had a Starbucks representative here the day before we opened teaching us how to use the machinery, and he gave us the recipes on how to make the drinks,” said Hill. “Then we had somebody here from a licensed store for a week to train us on how to make everything and make sure we knew what we were doing.”

Still, some students feel indifferent toward the new coffee spot.

“I’ve never been a big fan of Starbucks, and I’ve always preferred other local coffee companies,” said Anna Kate Benedict, ‘20. “If I’m going to go get coffee in Lexington, I’m going to go to LexCo or somewhere on campus rather than go to VMI for Starbucks.”