The 50 Best College Coffee Shops in America

Regardless of why you're looking to get wired, these are the 50 Best College Coffee Shops in America.

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For the kids who aren't scoring Adderall in the campus library's bathroom, the college coffee shop is a key element of finals week survival. The hellish hours spent cramming and writing papers are made possible by that hot, liquid caffeine pushed on street corners everywhere. You may feel like crashing after that last test, but there's always one more party, meaning one more trip to the coffee shop for one more shot of espresso.

The coffee shop is just as important to the college experience as the bar, or even the bar after the bar, and the late-night eatery only works if you're up late enough to use it. So whether you need a caffeine fix for studying, or a caffeine fix to help you stay up for not studying, these are the 50 Best College Coffee Shops in America.

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50. Kafein

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School: Northwestern University

Address: 1621 Chicago Ave, Evanston, Ill.

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This gem has been serving NU students for years, while also being clean enough to house some local Evanstonians. Be sure to read some of the Trivial Pursuit cards aloud to friends. At least they'll drown out the open mic participants.

49. Kiva Han

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School: University of Pittsburgh

Address: 420 South Craig St, Pittsburgh, Pa.

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Kiva Han may not have the best place for artisan coffee, but if you need some magma between classes and a slight refuge from the street heat, you might as well come inside. And once you're in you might notice that this is another coffee shop where the food actually makes up for some of joint's miscues. Bring a sharpie, add to the bathroom grafitti and participate in the great public forum of Pittsburgh.

48. Aromas

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School: College of William and Mary

Address: 431 Prince George St, Merchants Square, Williamsburg, Va.

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It's rare that a coffee shop offer three meals worth of food, especially in such a small location, but Aromas pulls this feat off for the students of William and Mary every day. However, the location, one block from the heart of colonial Williamsburg, makes the sight-seeing the real star. And, perfectly, Aromas is just far enough away to escape the horse-drawn carriage poop. Be sure to ask if they churn their own butter.

47. Gone Wired Coffee

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School: Michigan State University

Address: 2021 East Michigan Ave, Lansing, Mich.

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More like a Kiwanis club than an actual coffee shop, you certainly can’t accuse Gone Wired Café of being cramped. The church activity room feel certainly makes it easier to focus on your work, unless you can hear the foosball paddles whirring from your second story perch. It’s no frills, but a good place to get a paper down without the crowd of the library.

46. Small World Coffee

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School: Princeton

Address: 14 Witherspoon St, Princeton, N.J.

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Though they may be more famous for their whole beans or their coffee club, why get the milk from a carton when the cow’s right there? This open-air café invites people in off the streets surrounding it to enjoy some high priced go-juice. You can also grab a great mango lassi, but why bring a golf club to a basketball court? #mixedmetaphor #danrathersteez

45. Donna's

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School: Johns Hopkins

Address: 3101 Saint Paul St, Baltimore, Md.

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Baltimore's Donna’s family of cafes are a local staple, and this location near Johns Hopkins offers a big menu to go with its large, handle-less lattes. A restaurant where locals and students intermingle, it's as good a place to study as it is a place to grab a quick dinner and a glass of wine with your professor (hopefully they’ll grab the check).

44. Caffe Regio

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School: NYU

Address: 119 MacDougal St, New York, N.Y. 

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Take a seat on one of the incredible wood-carved benches, crack out your laptop and transport yourself into historical inaccuracy. This is the quintessential Italian cafe, and sitting inside of it and wasting away the day is unique to very few places besides New York. And yet New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead wasting anything, especially time.

43. Lift

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School: Virginia Commonwealth University

Address: 218 West Broad St, Richmond, Va.

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A small and whimsical space, designed to look like you're in the clouds that han from the ceiling. They offer all the regular digs in a carefree space, but the make your own to-go six-packs and bottles of wine are a new idea that gives them a little boost. Stop by at happy hour for half-off drip.

42. Bordertown Coffee

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School: University of Minnesota

Address: 315 16th Ave Southeast, Minneapolis, Minn.

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Bordertown Coffee is probably the only non-profit coffee shop you’re likely to hear of. If not, then it’s likely the only non-profit coffee shop located in an abandoned and six-time condemned frat house. Like a phoenix, Bordertown grew out of a pile of filth into a sweet firebird (with a fireplace) and with none of the residual Axe smell (or whatever the '80s body spray equivalent was). You can even rent some of the rooms for conference-style coffee and croissant consuming.

41. Alley Cat Cafe

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School: Colorado State

Address: 120 1/2 W Laurel St, Fort Collins, Colo.

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One of the rare and bold coffee shops who are open 24 hours a day, with free wi-fi, a printer, and sleeping bags for rent (ok, not that last one). The décor is nice enough and the coffee is still up to snuff, just come ready to see the many sides of a 24-hour joint with the added bonus of adrenaline filled java-heads.

40. Mudhouse

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School: University of Virginia

Address: 213 West Main St, Charlottesville, Va.

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This place really shines because of its location and environment. Right on the historic downtown mall, it is one of the ultimate places to sit and people watch both inside and out. Townies and students converge in this lively brew pot, but despite all the chaos it has charm enough to keep you coming back again and again.

39. Alaska Coffee Roasting

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School: University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Address: 4001 Geist Rd, Fairbanks, Alaska 

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Alaska Coffee Roasting roasts their own beans, something that is becoming less rare these days, but one thing they have that most coffee places don't is a wood-fire brick-oven where they make pizzas and meat pastries. While the decor is nothing to write home about, for a snack and a cup of mud, you can't do much better.

38. Living Room Cafe and Bistro

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School: San Diego Stage University

Address: 5900 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, Calif.

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Though you’re probably not used to so many people being in your living room, in this particular one everybody’s family (or at least friends). The name isn’t too far off though, a nice little spot with lots of cozy, mismatched furniture and an impressive amount of baked goods (probably made by someone’s mom). They also have a weekend buffet, which isn’t most people’s favorite, but great if your hangover wants a pound or two of bacon (the hangover wants what it wants).

37. Glazers

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School: University of Hawaii

Address: 2700 South King St #D101, Honolulu, Hawaii


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When you live in Hawaii you get to see beautiful landscapes and brilliant color every time you step outside, so when you get coffee you don’t need bright floral colors and huge murals—some green walls and a wood floor will do. Though you probably can’t escape without a little flair on the top of your latte, this subdued coffee shop is very hands off (insert lei joke). Also, they have a telephone booth in the middle of the café if you’re having a superhero moment and need to change (or if you're a voyeur wanting to catch some superhero nudity behind the glass).

36. The Laughing Goat

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School: University of Colorado-Boulder

Address: 1709 Pearl St, Boulder, Colo.

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Laughing Goat entertains in the laid back, open air, hip old furniture kind of way you'd expect a coffee shop in Boulder to. The one thing you might not expect is the amount of music and live performances that comes through the doors. If doing work is your thing, get ready for an early afternoon exit.

35. On the Hill

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School: Maryland Institute College of Art

Address: 1431 John St, Baltimore, Md.

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A great coffee shop to eat at, On the Hill boasts some creative menu choices, catering to commonplace (burgers), exotic (pork belly and kimchee), and healthy (curried chicken with mango chutney) diners alike, MICA students stuff this small café to the gills. Great place to take a date, or get a hangover breakfast that won’t cause another kind of hangover.

34. Common Grounds

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School: University of Kentucky

Address: 343 East High St # 4, Lexington, Ky.


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Common Grounds is just like any other coffee shop, but with two differences. With 4 rooms with which to put your stuff, the place is huge. The main room is filled with people playing games, talking loudly,  or listening to the occasional live music. But through the other rooms of the building different dynamics grow, alliances are made, boundaries are drawn, petitions are being signed to ban the Decemberists from the playlist, and all of it is fueled by the never ending cup of coffee they offer (you’re reading that right).

33. Metropolis

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School: Loyola University Chicago

Address: 1039 West Granville Ave, Chicago, Ill.

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If you’ve been in Chicago long, or longer than a few hours, you might have already heard of Metropolis. Brewing in-house roasted coffee and crack-like red line espresso and offering hoosier mama pies and cakes, it is a neighborhood staple, full of locals and Loyola study buddies, all three rooms of it. This place is such a landmark you’d swear you’d seen Clark Kent running into the bathroom. But maybe you just need more coffee.

32. Cafe La Ruche

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School: Georgetown University

Address: 1039 31st St, NW, Washington, D.C.

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If ever you tire of walking around in Georgetown, which I find hard to imagine (perhaps it’s raining), you can step into Café La Ruche for a Café au Lait and a crepe and dry off. This old world French café is another great transplant from another rich coffee culture, and any Georgetown student would feel right at home eating something rich especially when they’re so poor. Even after student loans.

31. Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar

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School: Indiana University

Address: 322 East Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, Ind.

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Like hanging out in your friend's basement, if one friend spent all their time collecting furniture, another made an aquarium out of the tv and a mural of missed connections about Soma on the wall, and you allowed strangers in and served them coffee. Nice, homey, young, arguably pretentious, but too sweet and low brow to really hurt anyone’s feelings.

30. Koffee

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School: Yale

Address: 104 Audubon St, New Haven, Conn.

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Despite the misspelling on the signage, this New Haven joint has got it together. Great place to grab a pretty pastry and sink into a big couch with a (I’ve-never-heard-of-it-before-but-hope-to-see-it-pouring-into-my-gullet-soon) Nutella latte.

29. Cafe Brioso

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School: Columbus College of Art and Design

Address: 14 East Gay St, Columbus, Ohio


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If you’re a student you can skip the rough parking situation on Gay St. and head right into the cavernous Café Brioso. One of a few local roasting coffee wizards (see Luck Bros.) in Columbus, Brioso also boasts some cooking chops as well, with house-baked goods and focaccia for sandwiches. Just don’t let the suits push you out of your table when the downtown rush arrives. Who knows, maybe your table fighting abilities will land you an internship fighting land developers.

28. Dose

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School: Vanderbilt

Address: 3431A Murphy Rd, Nashville, Tenn.

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Dose is the product of one coffee shop eating another one. Is it twice as good? No, according to the food chain diagram in your Earth Science textbook,  it only gains one tenth of its energy. But that’s enough. Run by two passionate former and current baristas, this place is hungry to feast on its competitors.

27. Zumbar

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School: UCSD

Address: 10920 Roselle St # 106, San Diego, Calif.

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This hidden nest of hand-roasted goodness doesn’t even have its own name on the sign, which reads: “Coffee Shop.” Feeding scientists (who then presumably feed it to lab rats) and students (who are lucky enough to have judged the book based on its contents instead of its cover) some of the best coffee in San Diego. If you’ve never heard of it, then you’re welcome.

26. Funk n' Waffles

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School: Syracuse

Address: 727 South Crouse Ave, #8, Syracuse, N.Y.

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As the name would suggest, this is more of a chill-and-nosh spot than a drink-four-cups-and-study kind of place, but the coffee's good, the food's better, and you could conceivably get some work done here if you really, really wanted to. But why would you want to do that?

25. Avril 50

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School: University of Pennsylvania

Address: 3406 Sansom St, Philadelphia, Pa.

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And now for something a little different. Loosely based off the French Tabac, a small convenience store licensed to sell tobacco, Avril 50 offers coffee to be savored while perusing the many local, national, and international magazines, postcards, chocolates, cigars, and all other things interesting and slightly exotic. A great place to get a coffee and pick up a Weekly World News on the way to lecture.

24. Terazzo

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School: Texas A&M

Address: 405 East University Dr, College Station, Texas

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This may not be your traditional coffee shop, nor your traditional anything. Terazzo is attached to the Benjamin Knox art gallery, which showcases local A&M artists, features a short but sweet wine list, and a nice patio. If it weren't for the private dinning caboose train car parked outside, you might think you weren’t in Texas anymore. Take a date on the cheap and trick them into thinking you have money or class!

23. Saint's Cafe

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School: Penn State

Address: 123 West Beaver Ave, State College, Pa.

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Equal parts bakery and coffee shop, Saint's Cafe doesn't use the web address "statecollegecoffeeshop" for no reason. It is the best coffee shop in State College. Their carefully made Intelligentsia coffee blows away the local competition (especially that scourge of the Earth, Starbucks). They also boast high-quality baked goods, essential ammo for those days when studying requires your ass to be immobile on one of Saint's Cafe's couches. People tend to post up here—it's no surprise why.

22. Evergreen Cafe

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School: Loyola University Maryland

Address: 501 West Cold Spring Ln, Baltimore, Md. 

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The spot to be for Loyola University Maryland students, and what a big place it is. Get a frozen yogurt or gelato with your hot bean water and stare longingly at the plants that hang like a living chandelier around the giant skylight. Let the white noise of the fountain, which patrons lovingly describe as vagina-like, wrap around you, and you might just fall asleep and wake up in what seems like a library, strangely undisturbed.

21. Trabant Coffee and Chai

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School: University of Washington

Address: 1309 Northeast 45th St, Seattle, Wash.

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If being a member of the ever-growing movement of per-cup brewing (where you watch your mug brew before your eyes) and a short list of baked goodies doesn’t seem like enough to justify Trabant's place on this list, know that this is a cheat-on-your-coffee-shop place in a serious coffee town. Try asking any of the extensively trained baristas about what you should get and grab a pen and paper because it's school time. Especially famous for their chai and Omanehene mocha, this no-nonsense place preaches the basics, and oh! hallelujah. 

20. Cultiva Coffee

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School: University of Nebraska

Address: 727 South 11th St, Lincoln, Neb.

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“Seed to Cup” is the philosophy at Lincoln's Cultiva Coffee; that way they can best control how their coffee tastes. They only buy fairtrade and organic beans, which they then roast themselves. And far from being elitists about it, Cultiva offers roasting apprenticeships. They know they've stumbled upon a terrific way to do beans (word is, their product has cats in Seattle nervous about the quality of their joe) and they want to share that knowledge. It's not everyday that your local college coffee shop is also itself an institute of higher learning.

19. The Java House

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School: University of Iowa

Address: 211 1/2 East Washington St, Iowa City, Iowa 

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Perhaps more like a Baskin Robbins than a coffee shop, here you can choose your own blend of beans for every cup (kind of like your favorite jelly belly recipe). Because creating your own masterpiece can be intimidating, the baristas will have plenty of suggestions at the ready.

18. Comet Coffee

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School: University of Michigan

Address: 16 Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor, Mich.

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You might miss Comet if you didn’t already know it was there, and you’d certainly be missing out. This tiny shop tucked away in Nickels Arcade is the best place to get coffee in Ann Arbor. The baristas trained by the local coffee professors at Lab, a cute boutique-like shop, and the one-of-a-kind calm and quiet setting of the Arcade set off the lack of seating and what some people may call an outrageous $5 cup of coffee (bean prices are at an all-time high, people!).

17. Cup a Joe

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School: North Carolina State University

Address: 3100 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, N.C. 

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In an era when the ol' two-great-things-that-go-great-together combo of coffee and cigarettes is on its last legs (something about a big "C"), Cup a Joe's is a stop of last resort for the caffeine and nicotine-addled crowd. The coffee's great, the spacious, funky setting is, too, but it's the smoking policy (that is, you can, and indoors) that's the great draw, particularly the air conditioned room on a hot Carolina summer's day.

16. Remedy

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School: University of Tennessee

Address: 125 West Jackson Ave, Knoxville, Tenn.

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Here’s a place that seems to put a lot of thought and creativity into everything they do. The warehouse building location shines because of its slick and modern design choices. They have a bookswap library, knowing that people are going to take the books anyway (might as well ask them to trade), and most intelligently of all, they hold Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the back room, because who loves coffee more than recovering addicts?

15. Public Domain

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School: Portland State University

Address: 603 Southwest Broadway, Portland, Ore. 

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Coming from one of the top coffee towns in the U.S., you should expect something pretty serious for your taste buds; Public Domain will never let you down. It’s some serious bare bones, heart-of-hearts stuff. The décor may be a little too slick for some (a bit like an Apple store with fewer employees) but it seems to put the focus on what it should. Damn fine coffee. And it’s not a bad place to get caught in a photo, either. 

14. Big Bear Cafe

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School: Howard University

Address: 1700 1st St NW, Washington, D.C. 

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In a city like D.C. it is rare (though less so every day) to have a locally-sourced menu. It’s especially rare when that menu belongs to a coffee shop and that coffee shop grows some of their produce right outside the windows. Big Bear not only hosts the Bloomingdale’s farmers market, they also screen campy movies, host artist lectures, and give gardening lessons. It’s unusual for a coffee shop to be the marquee of the neighborhood, but Big Bear is a big leader.

13. Espresso Royale Caffe

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School: Northeastern University

Address: 44 Gainsborough St, Boston, Mass.

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Espresso Royale Cafe, simply known as "ERC" is Northeastern's hipster counterpart to the Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts around campus. ERC has various single origin coffees, the best Yerba Mate lattes, and awesome bagel sandwiches. The Gainsborough location by NU also acts as an art gallery, featuring local artists' work on the walls. There's also plenty of seating and free WiFi which keeps the students coming back for more.

12. Luck Bros' Coffee House

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School: Ohio State University

Address: 1101 West 1st Ave, Grandview Heights, Ohio 

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If you're looking for some artisan coffee in the heart of Ohio, this is your stop. They've got hand pulls right out of your dreams, beans grown all over the world and then roasted locally, an encyclopedic of knowledge of what you're getting and what you're looking for, and for that extra-mile education, a boutique's worth of beakers and all the other gear you'll need to conduct your diabolical coffee experiments a la couch.

11. Indie Coffee

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School: University of Wisconsin

Address: 1225 Regent St, Madison, Wis. 

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Though not sponsored by IFC, Indie Coffee does manage to get some national acts to play their location. They also put a percentage of proceeds to support indie music and film in Madison. So when you’re chowing down on one of their red and white waffles, check the schedule to see if your favorite band is playing their randomly, for free.

10. Volta

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School: University of Florida

Address: 48 Southwest 2nd St, Gainesville, Fla. 

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If you want a college coffee spot that is cool above all else, this may be the one. They brew whole leaf teas from remote mountains, bake blue velvet cupcakes, brew by-the-cup Chemex coffee, make coffee can art, serve egg creams, do themed food pairings, go to barista competitions (ok, maybe not cool), all without judging you (ok, maybe they judge you).

9. Sip

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School: Columbia

Address: 998 Amsterdam Avenue # 2, New York, N.Y. 

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Stepping into this hip location, you definitely might think you made a mistake, that you’ve entered some sort of specialty boutique, but don’t let the Somali masks and giant red and black squares scare you off—this is as good a coffee shop as any during the day. It just so happens they make that switch to bar and lounge somewhere between noon and midnight. That said, Sip is packed on the weekends with those same Columbia students who were quietly scribbling here during the week.

8. Caffe Strada

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School: University of California, Berkeley

Address: 2300 College Ave, Berkeley, Calif. 

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Caffè Strada is basically an extension of UC Berkeley. It even looks collegiate in its clean, pillared white surrounded by lush greenery. You're sure to find UC students filling every outdoor seat, enjoying those California daydreams that make it so hard to work and so easy to chat the day away.

7. Walker's

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School: University of Georgia

Address: 128 College Ave, Athens, Ga. 

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A werewolf bar: unassuming low-key coffee joint by day, but by night the place to be, with a huge patio connecting it to its sister bar, Blue Sky; a basement dedicated to America’s favorite drunk pastime (karaoke, or is it still baseball); and a smokers' alley that stretches the length of the bar. Either way, Walker's is a UGA hangout institution, and a proud believer in the drink all day strategy of collegiate participation.

6. Trident Booksellers and Cafe

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School: MIT/Berklee College of Music

Address: 338 Newbury St, Boston, Mass. 

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What goes better with coffee than books? How about dinner? Trident is one of the few book store/coffee shops not infiltrated by the behemoths that have stripped all the personality from what should be the ultimate combination in lazy day leisure. Featuring an award-winning magazine collection and a kitchen open for three meals a day, this cozy spot on Newbury is not to be missed. Bring your laptop and your wallet; they'll provide everything else you'll need for a nice, long, lazy Sunday.

5. Bourgeois Pig

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School: University of Kansas

Address: 6 East 9th St, Lawrence, Kan.

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As the first establishment in Lwarence to serve both booze and coffee, the Bourgeois Pig has a reputation for the radical. Still don't believe us? The Pig's first art show featured shotgun paintings by William S. Burroughs. And just as often as they have new art, they have smart-ass undergrads hotly debating in the cramped, beloved spot. So. Just how ironic is that name?

4. Lovin' Cup

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School: Rochester Institute of Technology

Address: 300 Park Point Dr, Rochester, N.Y.

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A great coffee shop doesn’t just list what’s going on around town later that night—it is what’s going on later that night. Enter the Lovin Cup: huge lunch and dinner menu, draft beer, wine and cocktails, and a surprisingly impressive source for live music without any of the dinginess of the college venues you’re used to (which could be a good or a bad thing). You don’t necessarily have to go home for the 8 or so hours between closing and opening time.

3. Octane Coffee Bar

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School: Georgia Tech

Address: 1009-B Marietta St, Atlanta, Ga.

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Right next to Georgia Tech sits a nice brick building that looks a bit like a warehouse. Inside, on the other hand, well, it still looks like a Manhattan loft. Octane does their beverages right, making their own syrups, roasting their beans, cup by cup coffee brewing, and then there’s the near-full bar, where they infuse their own liquor. So if you’re thirsty and in Atlanta, stop looking and start drinking, already.

2. Bauhaus

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School: Seattle University

Address: 301 East Pine St, Seattle, Wash.

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You'd probably hang out in your college library if it played good music, was full of your friends, served Kool-aid, featured musicians doing live scores for movies, and you didn't have to necessarily study. Luckily you have Bauhaus within walking distance of Seattle University. Though not a book store, there are many handsome tomes lining the built-in bookcase walls. Bauhaus sports a lovely view of the Space Needle and bay, has a patio for those rare sunny days, and embodies the less somber side of Seattle with vigor.

1. Spider House

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School: University of Texas

Address: 2908 Fruth St, Austin, Texas

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A stable for laptop workhorses in the daytime and a bustling hangout haven at night, this could easily be the most fun you've ever had at a coffee shop. Not only can you choose between coffee or alcoholic buzzes (full bar), you can make your own taco, order a pizza, step through the connecting backyard stage to the art gallery and music venue space, catch a great local act (in the music capitol of the world, mind you), an arts and crafts carnival, occasionally get a haircut, find another bar, another patio, get lost, and come back with a painting, a new hair-do, some buzzing eardrums, in between which you wear a smile, without once leaving.

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