Done with Dunn's? Bored with the 'Bou? Is Coffee News . . . old news?

By Ellie Craig, Annie Lewine, Tressa Versteeg

Cahoots Coffee Bar
1562 Selby Ave.

(651) 644-6778
6:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

7:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sat.

7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sun.

Free WiFiCahoots Coffee just east of Snelling on Selby Ave. is a great place to study. It’s a little farther from campus than the usual Macalester study spots, but well worth the extra walk.

Small lamps and large windows provide a change from the florescent haze of the dorms and library and there’s no annoying music or sound system, just quiet conversation and the sound of milk steaming every so often.

An eclectic blend of tapestries, tiled tables, striped velvet couches and bright office furniture allow you to hole up and focus on work rather than chatting if you’d like to.

Cahoots also has a charming patio, perfect for a nice day when Bateman Plaza offers too many distractions.

Oh, and coffee? Cahoots doesn’t just have dark roast, medium and decaf.

It’s a fine place for a classic Mocha Latte, but I recommend trying one of their specialties, such as Thai Coffee, a sweet blend of strong espresso and sweetened condensed milk.

Other specialties include Turkish coffee and Moroccan Coffee, which is brewed with 26 spices.

I tried the Moroccan coffee, which was amazing-the spices kept me awake along with the caffeine.

If you happen to stop by Cahoots on a Saturday morning, a local Henna Artist offers her hand-painted designs starting at five dollars. You have to sit still while it dries, so you’d have no excuse not to finish a big pile of reading.

Coffee Bené
53 Cleveland Ave. S.

(651) 698-2266
5:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.

5:30 a.m. -11:00 p.m. Fri.

7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Sat.

7:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. Sun.

Free WiFi

Coffee Bené, located a few blocks past Whole Foods at the corner of Cleveland and Grand, is great for those in need of a good cup of coffee and an atmosphere warmer than the library’s, but more tranquil than Coffee News or Dunn Brothers.

I was thrown by names more sophisticated than your average French Roast or Guatemalan brew. I ordered a “Velvet Hammer,” the “coffee lover’s coffee.”

Prices were reasonable. Refills are not free, but 30-50 cents.

Coffee Bené’s décor was a French country chic meets old St. Paul adorning the walls. The atmosphere is not necessarily better or worse than Dunn Brothers or Coffee News, just different. It is more subdued and calm, but not necessarily less cozy. It wasn’t very busy when I visited, but there seemed to be more space in between tables as well.

The crowd seemed to be a study cove for St. Thomas students and a place for informal business meetings. No one too strange to distract you from actually working, unless, like me, “Hot Flashes,” the Minnesota women’s bike club happens to sit next to you and you can’t help but stare at their 80’s neon coats and eavesdrop on their engaging conversation about grandchildren and how many black diamond ski runs you do in a year. I want to be them.

From Fergie to John Mellencamp to unknown country/folk instrumental music, the music selection was uneventful and unpredictable at the same time. At first, I was a little turned off by the lack of good tunes, but I found that it was one less thing to be distracted by.

The staff was pleasant and they didn’t push me out the door after I finished my one cup of coffee. They offer free Wi-fi, but restrict you to two hours a day. However, this may be beneficial because it will motivate you to actually research, rather than watch YouTube or Facebook because of the limited time.

It is a decent walk and about 10-minute bike ride away, but biking uphill back to campus with a laptop and textbooks is a little strenuous.

The Bean Factory
1518 Randolph Ave.

(651) 699-7788
6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Sat. &?Sun.

Free WiFi

The Bean Factory on Randolph Ave., about a block east of Snelling, is a small, stand-alone building with church pews, old wooden chairs, and tin-paneled walls that give it a warm feeling on the cold afternoon that I visited it, which made it a cozy place to study.

I found the Randolph Ave. location to be an advantage, as the longer walk encouraged me to stick around long enough to get a lot of work done.

When I visited, most of the tables were occupied with students studying, sipping on rich lattes that go well with long papers and tough problem sets.

Picture windows allow you to enjoy the light and admire fall colors before we’re lost to a sea of snow.

The Bean Factory is known for its fresh-roasted coffee, available in a Brew Bar. If you’re something of a coffee connoisseur, this will allow you to sample different blends.

Like Cahoots, the Bean Factory offers a variety of specialty drinks. Thai coffee is on the menu along with a new Ancho Chile Mexican Spiced Mocha, which provides a kick of spice behind its sweet chocolate base, and the Miel, a latte with honey and cinnamon.

If you’re looking to let out your inner child, the granita, a drink made from flavored syrups, fizzy water and ice, is popular with local middle-schoolers. It’s available in flavors such as Pina Colada, Sour Apple, Key Lime and Lemonade.

Common Good Books
165 Western Ave N, Suite 14
(651) 225-8989
10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

10:00 a.m.-5:00p.m. Sun.

Common Good Books, and the coffee shop Nina’s right upstairs, provide a great place to study. And the best part is it’s only a bus ride away from campus. The bookstore, owned by none other than Garrison Keillor, host of “A Prairie Home Companion” and author of many books about “Lake Wobegon,” is a friendly and comfortable spot to write papers, study for mid-terms, and break out of the dreaded “Mac bubble.”

The store’s walls, painted in cheery blues and whites, bear quotations from famous authors about reading and writing. “All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying.

My favorite spot is in the back of the store, underneath the skylight and across from the “God” and “Religion” shelves. There is a little nook in the wall with a sofa and a table with copies of Marx’s manifesto and Annie Lebowitz’s new collection of photographs. It’s an isolated spot that reveals only the slightest glimpse of the outside world through the skylights above.

If this prime location is already taken, you can pretend to browse books until the person occupying it leaves, or you can sit in one of the armchairs scattered around the store. There aren’t that many chairs, though, and there’s not a whole lot of floor space, so if you come when it’s busy, it might be hard to find a place to sit.

Later in the evenings on weekdays tend to be calmer, according to one of the clerks at the front counter. And on weekdays, as long as you don’t go during a lunch hour or just after schools get out, you’ll probably be able to find a spot.

If you’re also looking for a good book to read, there are note cards on some of the bookshelves with recommendations written by the staff. If you decide to buy something, you can join the Common Good Books “Book Club,” which awards a coupon worth the average price of your first twelve purchases.

For study breaks, there are plenty of distractions available; you can look through the books in Common Good Books, or you can go upstairs to Nina’s Coffee Café where you can use the free wireless and sample a variety of snacks and caffeinated drinks to choose from.