When your second round of midterms hits, the library might not cut it as a prime study spot. After all, spending dozens of hours scrunched between books (which may be older than your parents) and a guy blasting Tyga from his headphones won’t help the chemistry formulas stick. Below are a few cafés around town that are suitable study spots for any subject. So ditch your dorm, throw that chemistry book in your backpack and explore the city.
Sean Headland has worked as a barista at the Barnes and Noble Starbucks since January. He said during spring finals week all the seats were full of students with their laptops out and books open studying for hours.
According to Headland, this Starbucks is a great place to study because it’s right next to a bookstore — a reliable source of information. The coffee house is generally quiet, he said, and fortunately, the loudest sound is when the baristas steam milk.
“Everyone who works in the café can point out books if someone needs them,” Headland said.
The café has lots of seating and a low noise level. There are also big windows that let in a lot of natural light; however, these windows look down onto a busy pathway (between the Barnes and Noble and another Starbucks). Sitting by these windows makes it too easy to distract oneself with people watching.
Other than studying, Headland says he sees people simply buy a drink along with their book or magazine, and read.
“You can come enjoy a snack or lunch,” he said. “A popular idea is people come after they’ve eaten for the sweets.”
Headland said the caramel macchiato is a very popular drink, as well as the African autumn tea. However, Starbucks recently introduced the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, which has also been popular, he said.
Kreuzberg, CA was inspired by a neighborhood in Berlin where owner James Whitaker spent two years abroad. He said you could get a cappuccino at 10 a.m., a sandwich at 2 p.m. and a beer at 8 p.m. all in the same place.
“I wanted to bring that to SLO,” he said.
Mitchell Shira, shift leader at Kreuzberg, CA, said he definitely sees lots of people coming to study. He said Whitaker emphasizes making a place where students could study.
The café, centrally located on Higuera Street, has a lot of space. Shira said approximately 100 people could fit comfortably in the café if all the tables and patio were full. The space allows anyone to come in with a group, reserve the conference room, or find a nook or corner and study.
The café is full of comfy, mismatched chairs that somehow work with the room and atmosphere. There are also two nooks on either side of the main entrance with chairs and loveseats. Upstairs there is another nook for a more private gathering.
The café is full of artwork of all variety and bookshelves full of any book one could imagine. Kreuzberg, CA also has chessboards and pianos for entertainment. While the café has a very casual and friendly environment, the music is a little loud.
Like other cafés, Kreuzberg, CA frequently hosts concerts at night. Shira said the coffee house has at least two shows a week, most often three. Tuesday nights the café hosts a singer/songwriter series with low-key performers.
Shira said their best drink is their iced coffee, though he admitted he was biased because he’s the one that prepares it everyday. He said Kreuzberg, CA cold brews five pounds of coffee for 48 hours. Shira said the iced coffee is delicious and people love it.
“Everyone likes to think they have the best coffee, but we don’t want to shove that down your throat,” Shira said. “We want to pour it gently down your throat.”
Kreuzberg, CA doesn’t just serve coffee, but a wide range of food and alcoholic beverages. Brunches and mimosas are served on the weekends.
Shira said he sees a lot of different types of people in the café. Most are using their laptops, but others come to hang out and play games.
Linnaea’s Café opened in 1984 by Linnaea Phillips. The locally owned café can be found tucked away off the bustling Higuera Street on Garden Street, across the street from SLO Brewing Company. According to Chaz Daum, a barista at Linnea’s, the café encounters students coming to study all the time. She said the café is so full during finals week they actually cancel the music that plays overhead. Linnea’s is full of individual tables that can be moved around, allowing students to study in groups or by themselves. Daum said the café has free Wi-Fi and lots of outlets both inside and out in the beautiful garden.
“Lots of people don’t know we have a garden in the back,” Daum said. “It’s like a SLO secret.”
Besides studying, Daum said she also sees lots of language groups coming to meet at the outside tables. Further, the café is good for families because there are toys and books around, she said. The koi pond in the garden entertains kids, she said.
Linnea’s most popular drink is their homemade chai latte, Daum said. She said the drink is popular because it’s unique and they make it themselves. Linnea’s also makes its caramel from scratch and serves true European-style cappuccinos, she said.
On the corner of Foothill Boulevard and North Chorro Street stands a giant horse statue, marking the third and newest location of Black Horse Espresso and Bakery.
Emily Bartram, a barista at Black Horse, said students study at the café all the time, especially during finals week.
“You know how people find the library during finals?” she said. “People find Black Horse too.”
Though mostly inside, the whole café has an open, airy feel. There is plenty of seating inside the building, as well as on the patio. There is also a greenhouse-like room filled with plants. The café has many big windows as well, filling the café with natural light.
Bartram said the café is a good place for groups to meet up, and the noise level never gets too loud.
People come to Black Horse to do more than study and use the free Wi-Fi, Bartram said. She said a writer for Forbes magazine comes to the café frequently, and people tend to meet there for interviews. People come and hang out because they like the vibe, she said.
Black Horse is also starting to host music bands and artists, Bartram said.
“We want to involve the community more,” she said.
Black Horse’s most popular drink is the Caramello, a caramel latte, because the caramel is homemade. Bartram said something most people don’t know is that Black Horse baristas can create drinks on the spot. For example, a customer may ask for a triple tasty, which is three shots over ice of whatever the barista wants to make.
The first noticeable thing about Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café, found in the historic railroad district on Osos Street, is the bright green door welcoming its customers. Next, customers notice how spacious the café appears. Sally Loo’s has plenty of seating on both wooden chairs and tables and couches and armchairs. There are also a few tables outside the front and along the side of the café.
The amount of students at the café seems true to their class schedule, manager Emily Mayfield said. There are blocks of people in the mornings, they all leave for class, then come back in the afternoon, she said.
The café also offers Wi-Fi to those who purchase something and has quite a few outlets, Mayfield said. Those staying at the café and using the house mugs get to enjoy house coffee refills for a dollar.
Sally Loo’s is just far enough away from the downtown area that it’s more low-key and a good place to study, Mayfield said. She said the café hosts lots of SLO natives (SLOcals) as well as people from the neighborhoods close by. Train-goers come in around three.
“We like being a local neighborhood café,” Mayfield said. “We love our regulars.”
Mayfield said her favorite drink is the 12 oz. latte. She said they also have an amazing homemade mocha and homemade caramel sauce for their lattes.
If you know to ask, there is a secret menu item the barista’s keep “up here,” Mayfield said while gesturing to her head. It’s called the Ray-of-Freakin’-Sunshine. Mayfield described the drink as an orange infused soy cappuccino.
“We appreciate people who appreciate quality food and beverage,” Mayfield said.