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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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Mangione’s Monday Munchies: A cafe that opened within the past year and a true hidden gem: The Undertow


While scrolling through Instagram, I discovered a local café with a small following I had never heard of before- The Undertow. Less than two miles away and a five minute drive from campus on Woodfin Ave, the café is two minutes past Cheap Joe’s art supplies and where I spent my Friday morning talking to the owner, Clementine Danielsen about what makes the Undertow so special to the Asheville area. 

Danielsen is also one of the owners of Pennycup Co Coffee, an Asheville based coffee shop with four shops across the city. Danielsen joined the PennyCup team seven years ago when their East Asheville location opened. 

“My hobby is coffee. It’s not only my job but it’s my passion, it’s been a personal passion of mine since I was 16, so, 22 years. I’ve done a lot of my own market research of what my favorite things are and what weaknesses I see in coffee shops. I don’t mean weaknesses as negative but weaknesses as in gaps in our offerings. So our goal with this concept was to fill those gaps and to provide something different,” said Danielsen. 

A crucial aspect that makes The Undertow such a unique café compared to many other local cafes in the area, is that it prides itself on being a family friendly café. A place where children, teens and adults alike can enjoy what the café has to offer, whether it be their wide variety of drink and pastry options, the free wi-fi to complete work, board games that are provided or even checking out the art posted around the lobby by local artists. 

“I wanted to offer something more to the community that wasn’t going to be more bar centered, that could be a place where you could co-work but parents could also bring their kids, where you can play board games, where you can sit and enjoy your coffee but also have a convenient way to go and it’s kind of a one stop shop where you can get something for your whole family, for people who don’t love coffee. We are super proud of our coffee but we are also proud of everything we offer,” said Danielsen.

The Undertow provides a large selection of beverages and pastries to choose from, not just coffee. 

“We are also the only café that offers not only craft coffee, but also smoothies, fresh pressed juices and Boba tea. There isn’t another shop that has all of those things.” said Danielsen.

The Undertow operating hours are currently weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekends. 


Drink quality: To the help of the barista who made my order, I tried one of Undertow’s signature lattes: “Like Fall”. It is a blend of maple, caramel and sea salt. However, I had a honey syrup substituted for the original maple syrup flavoring instead, per suggestion to the barista. The latte had a very subtle sweetness and a warm aroma to it. Between the espresso and the sweetness of the honey and caramel, they balanced each other quite well. I personally enjoy hot coffee on the more subtle, less sweet side so this drink truly nailed the spot. It was a great pick me up for the rainy day outside. I also tried another signature drink, “The Undertow”. This drink is small but with a mighty punch. It contains a splash of half and half, a pump of vanilla and a double shot of chilled espresso. The drink was bitter, especially after having my latte, but it was as expected given it is essentially straight espresso. The texture of the espresso was velvety and the taste was powerful, while still being able to have those notes of vanilla to give it some balance. If you are ever in need of a pick me up, “The Undertow” signature drink does a great job of doing just that and gives a kick of energy to help start your day. 

Pricing: Pricing at the Undertow is extremely reasonable. Their most expensive item on their menu are their 16 ounce signature smoothies, totaling at $6.50 before tax. Their largest drink size is 20 ounces. A 20 ounce hot latte costs $5.50 before tax and to make any beverage iced is an additional $0.50 and syrup flavors cost $0.50. The 20 ounce latte and cappuccinos are their most expensive coffee based items, costing $5.50 before tax as well as additional syrups. 

Service: Service was nothing short of phenomenal. The Undertow truly prides itself on great service and having down to earth, friendly staff. The staff was welcoming and friendly and gave me great recommendations and had my drinks prepared for me in a well timely manner. 

Atmosphere: The atmosphere of the café was extremely welcoming. It was well lit but not enough to strain the eyes. There are several places to sit down and do work, as well as art work posted around to look at, all created by local artists. There is also a wide variety of board and card games to play as well. The Undertow also provides free wi-fi to guests, which makes it a great study spot for students. 

Final thoughts: With its close proximity to campus, a great study environment, reasonably priced drinks and great service, The Undertow is highly recommended. 10/10 rating! 


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