Parker Roof '22
I have a confession to make: I am a caffeine addict. This is not only an addiction, but a love for the drink itself that has manifested throughout my first year of college. It is an addiction that has gone hand-in-hand with studying for hours on end during finals at the end of the semester. It began innocent enough, with seeking out places to study around Columbia that would provide a change in scenery from the library. But, little did I know that simple action of seeking out a quaint place to review notes would lead to a city-wide search for the best place to not only study, but the place with the best (and strongest) cup of coffee.
After an extensive search, I found four places that I feel are the best of both worlds
— each with their own atmosphere and drinks to choose from. Along with being great
places to study, these local coffee shops are also fantastic places to hang out with
friends if you ever find yourself bored on a sunny afternoon.They also all happen
to be within a 10-minute walk of main campus, so you won’t need to worry about a long
walk taking up your precious study hours. For incoming students, this list will hopefully
serve as a guide to escape your daily routine and give you some energy in the process.
It will certainly save you some time in the long run.
Cool Beans Coffee Co.
First on the list is the option closest to campus, Cool Beans. Just a quick walk from
Greene Street, this shop has a large menu of uniquely named drinks such as the “Perfect
Woman” and the “Perfect Man.” They also have a constantly running list of specials
that alternate throughout the year. The atmosphere is perfect for either hunkering
down and studying for a few hours, or sharing conversation with friends. It has a
distinct small coffee shop vibe with accompanying sights and sounds that free you
from having to put in headphones in order to stay focused. There is also food available
on the menu if you find yourself hungry during your longer stays, and the coffee itself
tastes great and is served in a timely manner. If you are looking for a great spot
with a unique local vibe and not too much of a walk from your residence hall, look
Next on the list is the second closest place to campus, the Carolina Cafe. Right on
the corner of Sumter and Pendleton, this local shop is both a great lunch spot and
a good place for a midday coffee run. The atmosphere is perfect for mid-afternoon
studying when you have an hour or two between classes and need to get work done. The
coffee is also delicious and has a plethora of flavors to choose from for when you
want something outside of a basic tasting cup of joe. If you are there during lunch,
definitely get one of their bagel sandwiches as well — you’ll love it. When you run
into the midday hangup during the week, be sure to stop by here to replenish your
energy and get some work done in the process.
If you ever find yourself in the Soda City Market on a Saturday morning and need a
quick pick-me-up (or maybe get some homework done to free up your day), then look
no further than Indah Coffee. Indah is a smaller shop with more of an urban atmosphere
than any of the locations on this list. Despite this, it is not usually too loud inside
the building, and there is sometimes music playing over a speaker that drowns most
of the noise out. It has great seating with a fantastic view of Main Street if you
intend to grab a spot for the afternoon and get some work done while you hang out
inside. As for the menu, the coffee list is pretty standard, but it is all very good.
If you intend to get a lot of work done all while enjoying the atmosphere of Columbia,
then consider stopping by Indah Coffee next time you’re walking down Main Street.
Good Life Café
Last on the list, but certainly not least, is Good Life Café. Good Life is primarily a restaurant, but the coffee is so delicious it would be a crime not to include it on this list. If you feel a big crash incoming to ruin your plans for the day, I would highly advise dropping by this spot for a great cup of coffee that will certainly give you the boost of energy you need. You’ll want to conquer the world, get all of your homework done and run a marathon in the process. Seriously, this stuff is good. However, apart from the caffeine, Good Life also has some fantastic vegan food to choose from. The brunch options are delicious, and I have trouble even telling some of the food is vegan. Similar to Indah, Good Life is located right on Main Street, so it shares a common atmosphere. But, where it differs is in the size of the shop. Good Life is by far the largest on this list, but don’t let that deter you if you need to get some studying done. There are bar seats near the windows that are typically open, each with designated charging stations to ensure all your devices stay powered throughout your stay. Typically it is never too loud either, so you can leave your headphones at home if you would like and still stay focused on the task at hand. When you are inevitably strolling down Main Street during your time at Carolina, be sure to drop by here for a quick bite, a caffeine fueled work session, or both. It’s only a 15-minute walk from main campus as well, so traveling to the cafe and back won’t devour your studying time.