Local coffee shops offer refuge for students


Photo by Brian Winters.

For many Southern Miss students, coffee shops off campus offer a place to study and get away from the normal rush of school. According to the VisitHattiesburg website, there are 15 local shops that serve coffee in Hattiesburg. 

Harry Crumpler III is the owner of one of these local shops, T-Bones Records & Cafe. Crumpler said JavaWerks is the only local coffee shop around from before T-Bones’ opening.

“There were a few coffee shops around Hattiesburg when I was growing up here during the 90s,” Crumpler said. “The only local coffee shop still here is JavaWerks, though now under different ownership.”

T-Bones initially opened as a record store, where Crumpler was an employee. The original owner, Tim Ramenfosky, decided to move and offered to sell the store to Crumpler in 2002.

“My mother and father backed me on it, and the rest is history,” Crumpler said. 

Crumpler said the store is definitely a great spot for college students to come to. He said he has met some of his favorite people inside of T-Bones.

“We really enjoy being a place that people feel at home in,” Crumpler said. “It really is a nice swath of Hattiesburg here.”

Crumpler said when it came to expansion, he was happy with the size. 

“I have always been a fan of being unique, only experienceable in one place,” Crumpler said. “Plus, I would probably lose my mind if we had another location.” 

Another local coffee shop is Mulvi’s Coffee Co. Matthew Mulvihill is the owner of Mulvi’s and said the store has been open since last February.

Mulvihill said there are two things that inspired him to open his shop. The first is when he was a student at Southern Miss, he did not feel most coffee shops in the area had a good atmosphere.

“I have always loved to work or study at a coffee shop,” Mulvihill said. “In Hattiesburg, I felt there just was not the perfect combination of great coffee and great atmosphere for studying or hanging out with friends.”

The second thing he said inspired him was his wife, Sarah. Mulvihill said as he and his wife were dating, they were always in coffee shops trying to find the best coffee shops as they traveled around the country.

“We noticed that there were certain shops that make you feel special and that they really paid attention to every detail,” Mulvihill said. “This truly inspired us to try and make a shop that felt different when you walked in and had a lasting positive impact on your day when you left.”

Mulvihill said for the first few months, it was mostly college students who came into the store because of the proximity to the school. As Mulvi’s grew and its name spread, the store got a mix of working people and students.

“That is always what we intended,” Mulvihill said. “Mulvi’s is here for everyone to get a great cup of coffee.”

Mulvihill said making a place that felt like home and where students would feel welcomed was Mulvi’s goal.

“This has been a dream for a while,” Mulvihill said. “We are just happy people have welcomed us in Hattiesburg.”

When discussing the recent boom of local coffee shops, Crumpler said he would rather see local shops pop up instead of corporate or franchise shops.

“Coffee is pretty amazing, I would not want to be without it,” Crumpler said. “Competition always sharpens your claws, too.”

Mulvihill said most coffee shops were still local before the boom. He said Hattiesburg is so loyal to local shops that chains do not always work.

“For the most part, the older coffee shops were pretty old school coffee,” Mulvihill said. “The newer generation of shops seem to be trying to step up the level of coffee, which is exciting.”

Senior marine biology major Jordan Waller said she went to the coffee shops around Hattiesburg five or more times a week during her time at Southern Miss. 

“When I go to a coffee shop, I always look for the ‘chill vibe,’” Waller said. “Those that have a calm atmosphere and friendly baristas are my go-to’s.”

Waller said she prefers local coffee shops over chains, and believes the specialties from local coffee shops are the best.

“From seasonal drinks to items available by harvest, their drinks seem fresher sometimes or even better quality,” Waller said.