The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

How Bates Muffins Made Me a Morning Person

Ashley Taylor
Photo of Commons muffins.

If you asked anyone in my family, my friends, or even my dog, they would consider me a night owl, not a morning person. The problem was that I had my first 8am class this semester. Fortunately for me, “while some people are genetically prone to staying up late, a new morning routine can help shift your sleep clock,” ( 

It was then that I began my search for a good morning routine. While the thought of getting breakfast generally wasn’t enough to get me out of bed, I found something new at Bates: Commons muffins. I debated whether to bury my notes on the Commons muffins deep in my desk, yet I have decided to share my thoughts on them. These muffins have often flown under the radar; I hadn’t heard much about them the first time I had gone to the dining hall. Recently, however, I learned that the muffins rotate every day. It’s like waking up to a surprise gift; one day it’s strawberry muffins, and the next it’s zucchini muffins! You can technically check which muffins will be available each day for the next two weeks by looking at the Bates Commons Daily Menu, but I have found the daily anticipation of a new muffin to be one of my favorite moments of the day. 

This is how I ended up trekking to Commons early in the morning in sub-30 degree weather multiple days a week. On one hand, I don’t think there is a science behind a good muffin predicting the quality of your day, but my best days have often started with a sour cream streusel muffin!

As my alarm went off each day throughout my second semester, I began to get out of bed faster and faster. Visions of muffins danced in my head and snowflakes dusted my shoulders as I hurried to Commons. I would rush straight to the small black bakery table in the back, and see the new two or three muffin flavors of the day.

Just remember that when looking for a muffin in the Bates dining hall, you should keep the upper tier in mind. After all, the low-fat raisin muffin has got muffin’ on the sour cream streusel muffin! 

 For this reason, I have decided to share my tier rankings for 25 Bates Commons muffins. 

The S-tier (the best choice) consists of the sour cream streusel, apple, pumpkin and zucchini muffins, respectively.

 I first had the sour cream streusel muffin on Feb. 4; it tastes like a cinnamon bun in the form of a muffin, with a perfect texture, flavor, and moistness. The apple and pumpkin muffins are both sweet, but not too sweet. They also both have very distinct flavors that are reminiscent of fall. Some people may be surprised that the zucchini muffin made the top tier, but don’t be fooled by its savory name; the zucchini muffin is almost as sweet as a vanilla cupcake, not too dry and it exudes a unique and delicious flavor. 

The A-tier (the second best choice) consists of the carrot, strawberry and pumpkin-glazed muffins. 

The carrot muffin almost made the S-tier, being of the perfect moistness, and even having the unique flare of little shredded carrots mixed in the batter. However, it fell just short of being one of the best muffins, because it didn’t have as sharp of a carrot flavor as I would’ve liked. Next up, there is the strawberry muffin, which has a stunning light pink color that is perfect for Valentine’s day, a Spring festival, or any other joyous occasion. It has a nice hint of strawberry flavor and is very sweet-tasting. The real question is why is the pumpkin-glazed muffin ranked below the pumpkin muffin? While both of these muffins have the same pumpkin muffin base, the hint of glaze didn’t seem too necessary, and even distracted from the richness of flavor in the original pumpkin muffin. 

The B-tier (good, but not great) consists of the chocolate raspberry, raspberry, low-fat honey oatmeal, morning glory, mocha chocolate chip, and banana muffins. 

The chocolate raspberry muffin is an incredible mix of sweet and sour flavors, with a perfect ratio of chocolate to strawberries. It is also “just right,” as Goldilocks and the three bears would say; being the perfect size, you can have multiple of these muffins and not feel too full. Then there is the raspberry muffin, which is sweet with a sour pop of raspberries in a nicely moist muffin. While I had originally thought that the low-fat honey oatmeal and morning glory muffins would be boring, traditional breakfast muffins, they actually both have rich and distinct flavors.The low-fat honey oatmeal muffin has some fun spices and the morning glory muffin tastes exactly like carrot cake. The mocha chocolate chip muffin is also delicious, and I am impressed with how much the coffee flavor comes through; this doesn’t taste like a standard chocolate muffin. I do wish, however, that there were more chocolate chips in this muffin, as I only got about two. Next up, is the banana muffin. I am not a huge fan of bananas, but I love this muffin, as it exudes the solid banana flavor without the sticky texture of a banana.  

The C-tier (average) consists of the chocolate chip, lemon blueberry, and vegan blueberry muffins. 

The classic chocolate chip muffin is a difficult feat to accomplish and there are hundreds of varying recipes on the internet, from Martha Stewart to Betty Crocker, each one trying their hand at fine-tuning this iconic muffin. Bates College rose to the challenge of baking their spin on this legendary chocolate chip muffin, and while it is moist, with a good ratio of chocolate chips to batter, it doesn’t quite stack up to the thousands of coffee shops who have perfected their recipe. Furthermore, lemon and blueberry have always been a nice combination, and the lemon-blueberry muffin almost does these flavors justice. The one thing missing from this muffin is fresher blueberries. One important thing to note is Bates’s mission to make their muffins accessible to a wide range of people, with both vegan and low fat muffins available. From my perspective, the vegan and low-fat muffins are just as good as the standard ones. This is why the vegan blueberry muffin made the average tier; I thoroughly enjoy how it has an edge that is crisper and crunchier than the other muffins. The one thing it lacks is that little sprinkle of granulated sugar on top, which most Dunkin’ Donuts muffins contain. 

The D-tier (slightly below average) consists of the maple glazed, honey cornbread, low-fat all bran, and lemon poppy muffins. 

The maple glazed muffin is a coveted treat across coffee shops. I have always been a fan of maple donuts, maple ice cream, maple candy, and almost anything maple. I even used to have a maple scone about once a week at Pete’s Coffee, so my expectations for this muffin were incredibly high. Sadly, the Bates maple muffin is oddly savory and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth. On the other hand, the glaze manages to save this muffin from being ranked lower. Additionally, despite being a refreshingly new and unheard of flavor, the honey cornbread muffin is a slightly odd combination of flavors, and tastes more like a lunch item. Shifting directions, the lemon poppy muffin is a highly sought after flavor, of which I am a frequent consumer. My bias and high expectations for this muffin may have led to its downfall, but it tastes just a bit too sour for me. 

The E-tier (below average) consists of the maple, lemon coconut, triple berry, and low-fat cranberry muffins. 

Unlike the pumpkin muffin rankings, this time the unglazed maple muffin is ranked below the glazed one. This shouldn’t be surprising, however, as the glaze really does save this muffin. The lemon coconut muffin sounds like a fancy treat at a resort in Hawaii, but the flavors of lemon and coconut are too blended together and this muffin, like the lemon poppy one, is uncomfortably sour. Unfortunately, the triple berry and low-fat cranberry muffins also don’t meet the mark, with overly-artificial tasting fruits and perplexingly sticky textures. 

The F-tier (the worst choice) consists of the low-fat raisin muffin. This is the one muffin that I couldn’t bear to finish. The red raisin boxes had been a common element of my packed lunches in elementary school, with me always searching in the box for that final raisin. Unfortunately, when I unwrapped and took a bite out of this muffin on February 1st, I was met with an old, bitter flavor. This muffin tastes like one giant raisin, and not in a good way.


The tier ranking of these muffins is my personal ranking, and isn’t a poll on what muffins Bates students in general think are best. I also tried the low-fat, vegan, and standard version of a lot of these muffins, but I only included one of these versions in the rankings. This is because, given I tried some of these muffins weeks apart, it was hard to compare the low-fat apple muffin to the standard apple muffin (etc). I also was not able to try all the muffins that Bates college offers, including the banana chocolate chip and oreo muffins. Therefore, this is not a complete list.

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