Get Buzzed: the best of local coffee shops and study spots


Author: Ella Fornari

Those who find the ambiance of cafes most conducive to studying are known as “cafe workers,” and they exist on all college campuses. Students flock to the Green Bean coffee shop because it is both a convenient caffeine source and study hub. Yet, the cafe is often loud and overcrowded, which creates a feeling of being constantly recognized and surveilled. Cafe workers can find refuge in a range of alternative cafe study spots. Infused with the rich aromas of freshly brewed coffee, tea and cinnamon, these local hangouts provide the perfect getaway for homework-laden students.

Cafe de Leche:

Café de Leche
Café de Leche /Giovanna Bettoli

Cafe de Leche, on York Boulevard and Avenue 50, is a popular Highland Park coffee shop that is about a 10 minute walk or a five minute bike ride from campus. With its hardwood, white paint and single row of tables lining the wall, the aesthetic of Cafe de Leche is simple and clean. Paintings from neighborhood artists give the otherwise minimalist decor a pop of color and local charm. The space isn’t big, but it is great for productive studying and paper writing. Students who need the Internet to do work should not go to Cafe de Leche to study on weekends because the cafe implements a “Wifi Free Weekends” policy. However, students who find themselves particularly distracted by the Internet can utilize the cafe’s no wifi policy to strictly focus on their studies.

Drink of Choice:
Cafe de Leche is known for its Horchata con espresso, and for good reason. The sweetness of the horchata, a Spanish and Latin American drink often made from rice, cinnamon and vanilla, is offset by the espresso and milk, which makes for a wonderful combination of bitter, spicy, milky and sweet flavors. Horchata con espresso can be ordered either iced or hot, but both the bitterness of the espresso and the sweetness of the horchata are more distinct when hot. For Portland natives, it’s also worth noting that Cafe de Leche brews Stumptown coffee.

Cafe de Leche is open Sunday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Highland Park Cafe:

Highland Café /Giovanna Bettoli
Highland Café /Giovanna Bettoli

This Highland Park eatery offers an alternative setting to the minimalist coffee shop aesthetic of Cafe de Leche next door. Although Highland Cafe is mostly known as a breakfast and lunch spot, it is also a coffee shop with leather couches and chairs in the back that contribute to the cafe’s homey vibe. For students who find themselves staying for awhile to do work, Highland Cafe has a menu that includes omelets, burritos, tacos, burgers, sandwiches and salads. On weekdays, especially during non-peak meal hours, Highland is fairly empty, which makes it a comfortable and quiet place to do work. However, on weekends the cafe can get fairly crowded and loud for brunch.

Drink of Choice:
Highland Cafe has fairly standard coffee shop drink offerings. Its chai tea latte is particularly tasty; it’s not too sweet and has a nice spice to it, and if ordered iced and “to stay,” it comes in a mason jar.

Highland Cafe is open all days from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Located in Echo Park, Stories Books and Cafe is both a bookstore and a cafe, as the name suggests. With its indie book store charm, Stories is a great place to both study and find escape in a good book. Although only five and a half miles from campus, Stories is not very accessible by public transport, but can be biked to in about 35 minutes. The cafe, located behind shelves of both new and used books, boasts an extensive food menu and standard coffee shop drinks. The inside portion of the cafe is small and can fill up quickly but is much more inviting than a Barnes and Noble Starbucks. Behind the cafe is an outdoor seating area that expands the otherwise limited seating inside. Stories also holds events such as readings, signings and musical performances in the backyard area. The shop keeps fairly quiet, and when students need a break from studying, they can go peruse the bookshelves.

Drink of Choice:
The espresso brewed at Stories Cafe is roasted locally in Silver Lake by Cafecito Organico, which tastes great in a cappuccino. Cold brew iced coffee is a refreshing option for those who choose to sit in Stories’s outside seating area on a hot day.

Cafe hours at Stories are Monday- Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Intelligentsia in Old Town               Giovanna Bettoli

Intelligentsia is the quintessential hipster coffee shop. The baristas all wear some variation of a button down, bow-tie and suspenders uniform and brew coffee in glass beakers. The V60 and Chemex brewing system gives the whole operation a scientific vibe. One can’t help but feel as if each cup of coffee is crafted by barista with a knowledge of brewing chemistry that rivals Walter White’s. There are two Intelligentsias about equidistance from campus: one in Old Town and the other in Silver Lake. The Intelligentsia in Old Town is about five miles from campus, accessible via the Metro Gold Line to Del Mar Station or the 180/181 bus route on Colorado Boulevard. The Silver Lake location is about seven miles away from Occidental and is not as reachable by public transport as the Old Town location. Although they brew the same coffee, these two locations could not be more different. The Silver Lake location’s party-like atmosphere isn’t conducive to studying. The Old Town location is quieter, not as crowded and has a space in the back that is well-suited for studying. Though it lacks local charm, the shop is spacious and it closes at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Drink of Choice:
The V60 and Chemex system must work because every cup of coffee at Intelligentsia is perfect. However, the cold brew is a definite standout. It’s bold, not bitter and unlike many types of iced coffee isn’t acidic or burnt tasting.

Intelligentsia in Old Town Pasadena is open Sunday -Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 7:00 a.m. to Midnight

Intelligentsia in Silver Lake is open Monday-Wednesday 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Thursday-Sunday 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

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