USC grad opens coffee and tea shop near campus

After 25 years behind a computer screen as an IT specialist, Greg Dodd sought a new venture. A cafe was just what he was looking for.

Dodd, a University of South Carolina graduate, decided to open the first South Carolina location of Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea “right in the middle of Columbia,” near his alma mater, on Park Street.

The coffee and tea shop, which is one of many Sweetwaters in the United States, will serve traditional espresso and coffee items but will also offer 20 whole leaf and herbal teas. And because the couple that started the company are of Asian descent, the menu is infused with Asian-inspired touches and “global influence,” Dodd said.

Sweetwaters will also serve cafe fare, such as wraps, salads, baked goods and other breakfast and lunch foods. Smoothies (with coffee or fruit), milkshakes and globally sourced specialty coffees are also on the menu.

“We’re big on real ingredients. There’s nothing artificial in there,” Dodd said.

The shop’s grand opening celebration will begin on Saturday, Aug. 17, and continue through Friday, Aug. 23. Free and reduced price food items will be available throughout the week. An official ribbon-cutting with the chamber of commerce will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Pawmetto Lifeline, a local no-kill pet shelter and adoption agency, is Sweetwaters’ charity partner and will host an adoption event at the shop from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea is located at 1002 Park St., inside the Empire building near IHOP and the South Carolina State House.

Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.