Ahhhh coffee. The life-force of a sleep-deprived college student. Sweet, caffeinated ambrosia. I love it dearly. I try to get my fix at home in my apartment before heading off to classes—buying a Starbucks brew everyday would not be a very frugal habit—but sometimes during the day I can’t help it. I get a need…a need for caffeine. And so I seek el café somewhere on campus. In my first quarter at Cal Poly (shout out to all the transfers!) I have so far narrowed down my top five spots around campus to grab a cup of joe.
- When you need a Starbucks fix and you’ve got some time to kill… Starbucks at the UU Plaza. Centrally located by the bookstore and the University Union, this Starbucks locale gets a lot of traffic during the day—especially during dead hour. This results in long lines but also great people watching. So if you’re pining for a caramel frappuccino or a caramel macchiato and are willing to hang around for a while, this is a good option.
- When you need a Starbucks fix and also a few grocery or household items…Starbucks at Campus Market. Though this spot definitely gets its rush hours, I’ve never known it to get as terribly crowded as the UU Starbucks. But what I dig about this location is that it is in the wonderful Campus Market, which carries an array of life’s necessities. Midday snack? Sure. Lunchtime burger? Got it. Toothpaste? Yup! Laundry detergent? You betcha. Cake mix? Of course. Mineral water? Why not.
- When you’re broke but want a coffee shop atmosphere…the Front Porch. I sought out this place when I started seeing flyers around campus touting “FREE coffee! All day! Every day!” I thought it was too good to be true. I mean, it kind of is because Front Porch isn’t technically part of Cal Poly; it’s Cal Poly adjacent. It’s, to my knowledge, owned by a Presbyterian church. But it’s easy to get to—just go past the rock-climbing wall and behind the Health Center—and you can even learn to use their espresso machine and make yourself fancy Starbucks-esque beverages! It’s also always got a very lively, friendly, social atmosphere for those socialites.
- If you’re broke, in a hurry, and just need a caffeine fix…Gutenberg Café. This is my secret free-coffee-location, so you didn’t hear it from me. On the second-floor of the Graphic Communications building, the quaintly named Gutenberg Café (isn’t that a great historical reference?) is actually a lone percolator in a second-floor office. I think it was put there mainly for Graphic Communications majors, I figure sticking a buck here and there in the little donations pot next to the coffee-maker makes it okay. It’s nothing fancy. There may be real creamer or there may only be powder creamer. And the sweetener selection is just a tin of plain ‘ol white cane sugar. But hey, sometimes you’re just in need of a good ‘ol stiff cup of plain joe.
- When you’re living at the library during midterms or finals…Julian’s Café. Conveniently located on the second floor of the Kennedy Library, this joint sustained me during finals. It’s a good thing they sell several tasty pastries and food items, or else I might have actually been living exclusively off of coffee. And I have always found the staff to be friendly.
Honorable mentions go out to Einstein’s and the Market at Poly Canyon Village. But those don’t do me much good when I’ve already trekked out to main campus for a day full of classes. I’m sure there are other good places to get some java that I haven’t included, but this is a pretty handy list—and a handy map—for my fellow coffee-addicts out there. Stay caffeinated, my friends.