Beyond the coffee, there are many things that make a great college coffee house: outlet accessibility, the quality of the live events, the friendliness of the folks who work there (and their taste in music), and the quality of the seating, to name a few. Some, like the campus favorites on this list, have added perks: a killer vegan breakfast burrito, a cup of coffee for $1, or a hot chai latte made with Aztec chocolate bitters. Read on.
Located on bustling Church Street near Yale, Atticus is distinguished by its sparse aesthetic and well-curated companion bookstore. Travelers will want to pick up their own copy of the Atticus Guide to New Haven, complete with a map documenting nearby sites of note. Other high points: the black bean soup, the cranberry pecan French toast, and a fine cup of coffee to-go for $1.
Located next to one of the largest academic bookstores in the United States (the Seminary Co-op) and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, the Plein Air is the perfect rest stop between. The décor is all repurposed wood, fresh flowers, and a touch of taxidermy (it’s cute, not creepy), and the Royal Pies are hearty and warm. Basically the stop has everything one needs before exploring the Windy City on a cold day.
Just a few blocks away from the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium there’s Indie Coffee, where one can participate in a poetry slam, check out live music (Jason Mraz stopped by once), and eat one of the six specialty waffles. Butcher-block tables and tiny lamps provide the backdrop for planning your next trip or just catching up on email. The patio out back is a down-tempo place to relax in the warmer months.
People-watching from the window is a major entertainment here, one that rivals Volta Coffee’s drinking chocolates, some of which incorporate chipotle chiles, cardamom, and, on occasion, Mexican cornmeal. Regular events include weekly coffee cuppings on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and readings from writers in the University of Florida’s M.F.A. program.
Look up as you enter to see this café’s titular “ugly mug.” The low-key University of Washington favorite is a nice alternative to some of the noisier cafés along nearby University Way (known locally as the Ave), and its lavender chai and green tea latte are both exceptional options on a gray day. The Ugly Mug’s décor is basic, but in these fertile lands of coffee shops, that plainness is actually part of its charm.
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