Cafe Muse: fresh, fresh, fresh coffee and tea


Cups, sweeteners, tip jar and baked goods sit on top of Danielle Harris’ coffee and treats cart, Cafe Muse, near the intersection of Ivy and West First Streets. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 30.

Danielle Harris’ coffee cart Cafe Muse can be seen on Chico State campus when the sun decides to peek out from dreary clouds.

The cart often sticks around the intersection of Ivy and West First Streets, to the right of the Student Services Center. On clear days the cart is generally out from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For such a small cart, their menu and products pack a big punch that makes you want to go back.

Two whiteboards sit propped up against the wooden cart, on either side of the circular, cyan emblem. The one to the left lists the drinks offered.

At the top of the menu sits a 16-ounce latte, priced at $5. The drink comes in multiple flavors: regular, pumpkin, lavender, caramel, vanilla and peppermint.

A frothy top with a decorative white spot in the middle lays underneath the white paper cup’s black plastic top. A secret waiting to be discovered.

The coffee’s flavor is another secret just waiting to be discovered. The strong, bold coffee flavor lingers on the tongue as you lightly gulp the hot liquid.

The caramel flavor is the only thing missing from the drink, especially compared to the bean’s strong natural flavor. The drinks lack that Starbucks-type sweetness, but instead offers a taste of home, time and care.

Cafe Muse’s 16-ounce mocha, priced at $5, comes in the same flavors as the latte, and is even more homey and profound than the former. The strong coffee essence is not as prevalent, but instead takes on a flavor and viscosity closer to that of homemade hot chocolate. There’s not just a whisper of chocolate, but rather a shout.

The freshness of the brewed coffee is unique in our current era of mass-produced coffee. The cart sitting out in the wind and shine adds another level of freshness, being able to feel the breeze in your hair as the coffee takes some time to prepare.

This chocolaty surprise would be perfect to take home and cuddle up with under a blanket while watching a comfort movie after a long day.

For those who don’t find coffee to be their cup of tea, there’s actual tea to sip on.

Their Dirty Chico Chai, priced at $6, is made from Chico Chai products. The most captivating part of the tea is the very sweet, dirty, earthy tantalizing smell that draws you in.

The thin liquid has a very even flavor — not too strong and not too faint —  and as you continue to sip it, it makes you want even more as the aftertaste delicately fades away after a few seconds.

It tastes like a scenic, laid-back study session under the skylight in the Bell Memorial Union.

The matcha, priced at $5, is very different from the chai. The milky tea’s overly hot temperature seemed to steal away the natural flavor of matcha, which should be refreshing.

As beautiful as the Tinker Bell-colored matcha tea is, that’s where the pleasantness ends. It’s sad to say that I’ve had better bottled matcha, though I have always preferred the taste of it cold.

The heat also seemed to exacerbate the tea’s natural smell, making it even more unpleasant to drink.

All drinks come with the option of whole or oat milk, with no price stipulations. You can also get brewed or stronger coffee for $3 or $4 respectively.

The second whiteboard on the right side of the Cafe Muse emblem lists the sweets waiting to be tried.

The fudge-stuffed chocolate chip cookie bar, priced at $4, sits on the right wing of Cafe Muse’s cart, sitting on display atop a small, red overturned plastic basket.

The primary thing to say about this fudge bar is that it needs more chocolate. Period. The two thick layers of fudge are not enough. Even the brightly colored M&M’s don’t add enough chocolate.

More downsides to the delicious treat are the thickness of the bar, which makes it hard to get a bite with every single layer. The cookie layers are also a little dry, but the sweetness and youthfulness of the treat far outweigh the negatives.

Two types of muffins, blueberry and almond poppyseed, priced at $3, sit on display on the left wing of the cart. The latter had an airy, fluffy texture consistent with the light and subtle almond flavor. The slight pop of the seeds and gentle crunch of the almond slice garnish adds some contradictory texture.

Maple rice crispy treats are also sold at the price of $3.

Harris has been selling off of her cart at various events, such as the Flume Street Fair and Lunar Market, and spaces since 2022.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].