By Guest Contributor: Emma Loignon-Giroux
It’s Monday afternoon. You have the dreaded three-hour break. It’s not enough time to go back home, but just enough to make you want to skip your next class. You know you have to get some work done, especially since it is your New Years Resolution to complete assignments way before they are due, but the idea of fighting to the death Hunger-Games style for a spot in Morisset (not to mention the dreaded elevator, or even worse, the stairs) is as appealing to you as another hike in tuition fees. Plus, you are feeling a little hungry after all that brain activity. So, what to do? Luckily, you’re a short walk away from top-notch study spots: cafés.
You might not be a coffee connoisseur or even drink coffee for that matter, but cafés offer a great alternative to that edge of table on the fifth floor of Morisset (also known as “Club 5th”). You get to relax, charge up on caffeine and get a little peace from the hustle and bustle of campus. Most cafés also offer an Internet access, and for those who don’t, that basically forces you to be productive by making Facebook and StumbleUpon and 9Gag out of reach (unless you have a smart phone with data, in which case my argument is completely thwarted). Of course, there are chains like Second Cup and Starbucks, which are great, by all means. But if you’re in the mood for something a little different, Ottawa has great spots with a little something for everyone. Here are some of my personal favourites:
Located in the market at 24 York Street (in Clarendon Court, right next to Roadtrip, watch out shopaholics!), this quirky little spot has a cool vibe and great chai lattes. Good music and witty quotes on the wall (I was once lacking inspiration for an essay and looked up at the ceiling and read “The ceiling is no place to look for inspiration”) make for an ideal study spot, and the staff is always ready to whip or froth or brew you up a delicious drink to accompany that pumpkin square you just had to get. Local, and proud of it, this coffee shop is a go-to.
While this spot is on campus, conveniently located in the basement of Simard, it keeps me coming back since it really offers a break from the crazy milling about on campus. This year, it is even part of the Meal and Flex plans the university offers, so you can use your uOttawa student card to cover your java and grilled cheese needs. Lots of seating and a good Internet connection help you work but it’s also an excellent place to meet new people. With an (obviously) alternative vibe and welcoming atmosphere, Café Alt makes for a great spot.
The Tea Store
Once again, located in the market at 53 York Street, the Tea Store is one of the cutest, most welcoming places I’ve been to. It offers a crazy-ginormous-you-never-even-thought-all-that-existed variety of teas from all over the world, some of which with quirky and original names (see “Fifty Shades of Earl Grey,” for example). The staff is ridiculously nice and bring you your pot of tea on a plate, with a little candle under it to keep it warm. Delicious scones served with jam and clotted cream add to its charm. Hint: this place is also perfect for a date.
This locally based chain of coffee shops offers organic, fair-trade coffees and teas along with delicious food and a quiet atmosphere where you can easily work all afternoon. They have quite a few locations downtown, one of which is on Dalhousie, Bank, and the other at Metcalfe and Sparks, all of which provide excellent service as well as Internet connection. If you’re a political junkie, I suggest the Metcalfe location; who knows, you might get to do a little political star spotting!
Roast and Brew
I’ve actually only this one discovered recently, but I felt the need to share it because it was that good. On the corner of Rideau and Waller, less than five minutes from Desmarais (literally, if the Starbucks line is too long, you could just walk on over), Roast and Brew recently opened its doors and offers a nice modern vibe with huge windows and (cough) interesting people watching. You can find any standard type of coffee or tea here, as well as freshly made sandwiches, quiches, and pastries. The music playing, at least when I was there, was great and perfect for studying, and the staff was also very nice.
Café Latte Cino (for Orleansers)
For those of you in the East end, this spot is at the intersection of Tenth Line and Innes, and is open (thankfully!) until ten on most days. They serve great coffees, excellent sandwiches and cakes and also…gelato! The space is big and perfect for studying, and boasts a mellow vibe that helps you concentrate.
The Bohemian Kitchen (for West Enders)
Finally, for all of you in the West End, although I’m not entirely familiar with the area, the Bohemian Kitchen is always my go-to. It is located at 39 Robertson Road, in Bells Corners, and is definitely worth the hike. Started up by a local entrepreneur who is now also a student at uOttawa, the shop boasts fair trade coffees, gluten free and organic options, fabulous soups and Panini, and anything your heart might desire for dessert. The music, usually a careful selection of classy French or Italian music, is perfect for studying and the bohemian atmosphere lends a cool vibe to the place. Go check it out!
So there you have it, my personal favourites. This list is by no means exhaustive and, although I’ve made my way around the cafés, there are some great places in Sandy Hill as well as pretty much anywhere in the downtown core. Not to be forgotten is, of course, good old Timmies, and they pop up almost at each street corner. So grab your stuff, have a seat and enjoy that coffee while working. Productivity can only ensue.