As finals approach, the importance of coffee in my life greatly increases. Below is a catalog of my favorite places near Mac and why.
Dunn Bros: The local Dunn Brothers Coffee, right next to campus in the northeast corner of Snelling and Grand, is a great multi-purpose coffee shop. Students have been known to spot Garrison Keillor sitting at a table in this less-corporate outpost of the local chain. They offer the standard drinks, and provide helpful descriptions (just what is a latte anyways?) right on the board. As a finals location, Dunn Bros suffers from tiny table tops in the shop and a fairly consistent hum of background noise. Their coffee isn’t my favorite in the area, but it is close and features the active ingredient for finals week: caffeine.
Caribou: A friend of mine choses to study in Caribou because there is nothing to get distracted by in the thoroughly corporate feel of the place. I choose to study there because the tables are much larger than Dunn Bros. Another point in their favor, free refills on coffee. This is clutch ever since Coffee News went out of business. I also like answering trivia for the chance at $0.10 off the price of my coffee and reading my horoscope while I wait for my drink.
Shish: While not specifically a coffee shop, Shish does offer many of our favorite caffeinated beverages and free coffee refills to boot. I do really like their coffee—it’s far smoother than Dunn Bros. As a potential study space, Shish can also work, but be prepared to avoid the mealtime rushes.
J&S Bean Factory: The Bean Factory is home to my favorite local coffee. It’s so smooth that I don’t rely on cream and sugar to ease my ingestion. The Bean Factory is also a bit further removed from campus making it much calmer as a study space. I really hesitated to share the existence of this place in TMW for that reason, but the coffee is just too good to overlook. The Bean Factory is also home to what is possibly my favorite specialty drink: the miel. It’s a latte made with honey and cinnamon and it just might be perfect.
Cahoots: Cahoots might just be the perfect study space. It’s location is relatively close to campus, but far enough away that I can trick myself into being on an adventure. The vibe is really relaxed and the space is populated with plenty of tables and old desk chairs. There is a wall of games if you need a study break, and a patio if the weather is cooperating. Cahoots is also home to my favorite chai latte in the surrounding area. If you are planning to make an all day affair of sitting and doing work and drinking coffee, Cahoots has good soup for sustenance. They also make a great cardamom cookie, I know this is about coffee and study spaces, but seriously cardamom cookies are great across the board.
Nina’s: Even though I struggle to pronounce the name of this coffee shop every time I want to tell someone to go there, it is still a great option. Nina’s is definitely outside the usual Mac stomping grounds, but sometimes a change of scenery is just what you needed. They have great coffee, cookies, and sandwiches as well as a plethora of good-sized tables and chairs to match. There are a fair amount of outlets. Regarding the coffee, there is also a much greater selection of coffee and espresso based drinks than most of the other places near campus. This could be a bonus if you bore easily or haven’t found your drink yet.
Quixotic Coffee: Quixotic is off the beaten path for most Mac students but squarely in St. Kate’s territory, so when I go there I’m less likely to run into people I know to distract me. They have great coffee, poured in a very fancy manner, reasonable tables, and a separate group study room. The meeting room is actually available to reserve for a group event, so if you and several friends desperately need space and the library is just too full, that could be an option. Quixotic is only open until 7 p.m. most days and 5 p.m. on Sundays, so this will not be your new late night spot, though it could be your new highly caffeinated spot.