Popular culture may give us many stereotypes about college, but at the end of the day, one of them rings true: coffee is the true fuel for many students. Coffee is what keeps things moving; students who stay up late to study or get up for an early class often make a beeline for the coffee shop to stay alert and stimulated. Most colleges have shops or carts on campus to satiate the caffeine needs of their students—and many college towns have even more cafés tuned to the taste of college students. Here are the top colleges across the US where coffee lovers can get their fix.
1. Auburn University
Auburn University has pretty impressive research and outreach programs, but it also has an excellent coffee culture. The University has several coffee shops on and around campus, many of which have turned into favorite spots for students. A couple of Starbucks locations are also close to the University. However, more popular locations are Mama Mocha’s Coffee Emporium and Coffee Cat. There are only a handful of independent coffee shops in the area, and it’s the patronage of Auburn’s students that helps keep them afloat.
2. Florida Southern College
Florida Southern College students don’t just love coffee—they live for it. With 10 craft coffee shops and three coffee roasters within four miles of campus, it’s easy to find a spot to love. For those looking to take their passion for coffee to the next level, FSC offers the Seed-to-Scale Incubation program, which allows students to partner with Concord Coffee and learn how to launch a coffee business quickly; in fact, Seed-to-Scale launched three businesses in the spring of 2023 alone during the program's first semester. Other coffee-related opportunities for students include Plant to Seed Fund micro-grants, a New Venture Finance & Operations class, a mentor group of shop owners and roasting experts, and the Coffee Cart Learning Lab.
3. University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley has a big, busy campus with a lot of students. The University is spread over an area of 1,200 acres and has courses in 184 disciplines. It’s basically a city in itself! With a campus that huge, there’s a need for several coffee shops, carts, and other amenities—and the school handles all of that admirably. The most popular places for coffee lovers are Common Grounds in Dwinelle Hall, The Free Speech Movement Café, and 1951 Coffee. Additionally, Yali's Cafe at Stanley Hall is famed for serving specialty coffee as well as excellent .
4. Brown University
One of the oldest universities in the US, Brown University offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees and 83 doctoral and master’s degrees. And like any other major university, Brown has coffee shops on and around campus. The Underground Coffee Shop is located on the lower level of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center. It’s a nonprofit enterprise that’s run by students. Other popular locations include the College Hill Cafe and Kung Fu Tea. As is to be expected, several franchise locations are available too, including Starbucks and Blue State Coffee.
5. University of Washington, Seattle
Seattle is pretty much the capital of modern American coffee culture, so it’s no surprise that culture is translated onto the University of Washington, Seattle campus. The area is so packed with coffee shops that it’s an experience in its own right. There’s the Parnassus Café and Gallery, Seattle's oldest coffee shop; this student-run coffeehouse and art gallery provides much insight into Seattle’s local coffee culture. The Ugly Mug Cafe and Cafe Solstice are other favorite hangouts for students. The ubiquitous Starbucks, which is headquartered in Seattle, has a strong presence as well.
6. Boston University
Boston University is a private, nonprofit institution that’s been renowned for its research program and academics for more than 150 years. Around 3,150 students are annually admitted, and a fair number of them come from all corners of the world. Several coffee shops and chains dot the landscape of the University and the areas around it, including Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Einstein Bros., and Blue State Coffee. Plenty of amazing independent shops are present too. Pavement Coffeehouse is an old favorite that serves Counter Culture Coffee; they work with an artisanal roaster to get freshly roasted batches of coffee from all over the world.
7. University of Wisconsin–Madison
One of the coolest things about the coffee scene at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is that there are plenty of independent shops around. The University has a massive 930-acre campus with around 44,000 students attending, so there’s room for a variety of experiments with coffee. Several coffee chains have locations at the University, including Starbucks, Einstein Bros, Coffee & Bagels, and Caribou Coffee. Other popular locations include Library Cafe & Bar and Valentia Coffee.
8. Baylor University
Baylor University is the oldest continuously functioning university in Texas. The most here is Common Grounds Waco, which is known for its amazing coffee and comfy atmosphere. The outdoor seating as well as the indoor ambiance make this an excellent and enjoyable coffee location. While the Waco location is located off campus, the University also houses its own Common Grounds location. As with most places, there’s also a local Starbucks nearby for students’ chain coffee desires.
9. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati is rich with enjoyable coffee locations, offering several franchise locations available around campus. There are a few Starbucks, a Tim Hortons, a Panera Bread, and more. But the highlight at UC goes to the Rohs Street Cafe. This “art-filled coffee house in a church” is a splendid location full of inspiration, art, and awe. And of course, there’s great coffee to keep you company. Going a small distance beyond Burnet Woods leads to Lydia’s on Ludlow, which is an “eco-oriented café” with great ambiance. There are a few more interesting shops in the area that are sure to add more joy to a coffee lover’s options.
10. University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin seems to be nicely ensconced in a row of coffeehouses. Nearly any direction you take will bring you to a coffee shop, and while no one will be walking over all 430 acres of campus, there’s a pretty good density of coffee shops so no student would need to. The usual groups of chains are present—Starbucks, Panera, and more—but independent coffee shops as well as artisanal roasters are close to campus too. There’s the Texas Expresso and Caffe Medici, as well as the Lucky Lab Coffee Co. coffee truck that’s parked on campus.
If coffee is a part of your daily routine (and let’s be honest, as a busy student, that’s likely), then these may be great colleges for you to consider applying to during your college search. Any one of these schools will provide you with a perfect mix of local shops and favorite chains to get you through the day and your classes.
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