Morning light spills through the windows, casting an orange hue over the pink walls and green plants scattered throughout the small cafe. It’s 7 a.m., and The Daily Grind is open for another busy day of walk-ins and drive-through customers. 

Following its soft opening in June 2023, the Daily Grind has grown in popularity. Owner Emily Baker said that the team wants to emphasize intentionality with each customer served within the coffee shop. 

“We’re trying to take the pieces of Starbucks, a system of going super fast, we’re all in a rush,” Baker said. “But we are trying to integrate more intention into that process.”

Baker said that when thinking of a name for the Burlington coffee shop, she was inspired by life and the reality of busy schedules. 

“We’re all living this daily grind of life, either going to school or going to work, just trying to make it in the world, and we don’t really like to take time to be present and slow down,” Baker said. “So that’s what the daily grind is supposed to mean.”

After researching popular syrup brands, Baker discovered that she did not recognize the ingredients, which inspired her to create her in-house syrups to ensure the quality she serves. 

The Daily Grind emphasizes using local vendors and ingredients in each step of the creation process for its various menu offerings, from pastries served to the beans and milk used for the lattes. 

Baker said they source their beans from LOOM coffee company, which gets its beans from a single-source distributor. When choosing local vendors, it was essential to her that each hand that touched the beans before they arrived in the store received a livable wage for their work, which LOOM ensures.

Each delicious pastry is from Greensboro-based bakery, Cheesecakes By Alex.

All the cow milk used to create their lattes comes from Homeland Creamery, a family-owned dairy farm in Julian North Carolina. All the tea sold in the Daily Grind comes from Ora Teahouse and Bakery, a black-owned and women-owned business based in Burlington. Even the plants that adorn the space have a local tie. Each plant has a QR code where customers can pay for the plant and take it home with them, pot and all. Baker said the idea started because she lacked a green thumb, but it became a symbiotic partnership that helped grow another small business and added to the visual appeal of the coffee shop. 

In addition to its regular menu, The Daily Grind offers a seasonal menu with lattes inspired by the things she and her staff remember fondly about each season as children and bringing that joy into adulthood through coffee flavors. 

“Me, my general manager, and our staff will sit around and talk like, ‘In the summer, what is something from your childhood, you really remember?’” Baker said. “For this menu, we have the honeysuckle and lavender shaken like all of us have very vivid memories of walking around our grandparent’s property in springtime, as everything’s blooming and picking honeysuckles off and eating them.”

Ariel Younger has been working at The Daily Grind as a barista for two months, but she was a regular before that. She said that she kept returning not only for the excellent coffee but also for the workers’ kindness. 

“They make you feel like you’re their friend,” Younger said. “It’s so fun.” 

Baker wants her shop to be more than just a coffee shop. She strives to positively impact each person who enters her store, from the interactions with the baristas to the products they consume. 

“We’re super transparent about what we sell, but we’re also all about connecting with the community and making little interactions with humans in your day mean more than just, ‘Oh, you’re providing me a service,’ like no, we want to make you smile, we want to know your name,” Baker said.