Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Best (Non-Starbucks) Coffee Shops to Study At

Looking back on the years spent at college, you’ll remember the bars and the coffee shops frequented by your friend group. Around campus, it can be difficult to find somewhere to study at that is not already overrun with college students. Places like Starbucks and Glazers are commonly overcrowded and the chances of running into an acquaintance and getting distracted from the homework mission are high. This is a list of some of the coffee shops and cafes that are less densely packed but still worthy of setting up temporary residency in. Evaluated based on space, proximity to campus, wi-fi availability, coffee and food quality, loudness, atmosphere and service and listed in no particular order.

University Ave.:

Smokey’s Pipe and Coffee

1010 University Avenue

Monday-Saturday: 8 a.m. to midnight

Sundays: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes


Points for being closest to campus and staying open late, Smokey’s has good coffee, acai bowls, and a selection of gelato waffles. For those who smoke, a selection of smoking devices and accessories lines the wall in a glass case. The chairs are comfortable and the shop exudes an overall sense of cleanliness. However, the service is mediocre and could be improved if the employees smiled every once in a while. Smokey’s is ideal for those living on campus who don’t mind dropping a few bucks. What sets this shop apart is the availability of kava, good for unwinding after a stressful study night. 


Waialae Ave.:

Coffee Talk 

3601 Waialae Avenue

Everday: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes


Floor to ceiling windows may entice outsiders into this spacious cafe. The layout, atmosphere, customer service and food are points for the pro side of a pro and con list. Unfortunately, despite the name of the business and the sign out front that reads, “The Art of Coffee,” what Coffee Talk lacks is decent coffee. All of the many flavors available (like the Black Forest Mocha or Caramel Snickerdoodle) sound delectable, but fail to deliver in real life. However, if quality coffee is not the number one priority for a study location, this is the place to go. *Disclaimer: this opinion is only based off of two visits. The writer disliked the drinks both times and has yet to return. Due to this, there is a chance that these two instances were off days and Coffee Talk may have delightful drinks otherwise. 


Ala Moana:


88 Piikoi Street

Open 24/7

Wi-Fi: Yes


Tomato Bisque. In a bread bowl. Topped with parmesan and basil oil. Three reasons Kissaten rules all when it comes to local coffee shops. On the back side of Ala Moana Center, the cafe is spacious and has incredible food and drinks. While the coffee is good, some of the fancier drinks are on the sweet side. There is Wi-Fi, but it is only available for patrons. The biggest advantage Kissaten has over the other coffee shops on this list is being open 24/7. 



Aroma Caffe

1777 Ala Moana Blvd.

Everyday: 6 a.m. -5 p.m.

Wi-Fi: No


If the name Aroma Caffe rings a bell, it is because the shop used to be located in the Ala Moana Center as a kiosk. The new location is far superior. Now in the Ilikai hotel, Aroma Caffe provides a change of scenery from most coffee shops. The shop has no tables inside, but grab a drink and go sit on the hotel’s lanai over-looking the marina. The downsides are limited food availability at the cafe (although there are plenty of other options within the hotel), and the lack of wi-fi. However, if wi-fi is not a necessity, it may be beneficial to go without it to cut out distractions. Overall, doing homework on the lanai will provide a sense of peace and put the mind at ease. 



Fresh Cafe

831 Queen Street

Monday-Saturday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes


Fresh Cafe has two locations: one in Chinatown and one in Kakaʻako. Studying can take place at either location, but downtown will serve alcohol after a certain time. This can be a distraction or a reward after studying all day. Fresh Cafe gets points for quality coffee and food and for having an overall cool appearance. It is a little further than some of the places on this list but the change of scenery and removal from anywhere near campus may help with focusing on the work at hand. Plus, there is outdoor seating at the Kakaʻako location.




32 North Hotel Street

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Sunday: Closed

Wi-Fi: Yes


At night, Manifest is known for bumping beats and being packed full of drunk people. However, in the light of day, Manifest has a hipster vibe with artwork lining the walls and grungy bricks walls. There is plenty of space and indoor picnic tables add an element of fun to doing homework. The various toast and other food options are worth the money and the coffee will not disappoint. Similar to Fresh Cafe, Manifest also serves alcohol, so set up shop and once the studying is complete, transition to party mode.



Pa’ina Cafe

1050 Ala Moana Blvd.

Monday- Saturday: 10 a.m – 9 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes


Around town, Pa’ina Cafe is praised for the poke and local food served, but while it may seem like an unlikely contender, Pa’ina is the perfect study location. While slightly further from campus, what is lacking in convenience is made up for in good food, coffee and great vibes. The inside could be more spacious but as most people drop in for pick up, staying for an extended period of time should not be too much of a problem. 


Alaskan grown, this collegiette studies Communications, Sociology, and Japanese at the University of Hawai'i. She has a passion for music, a recently rekindled love of writing, and truly believes there is nothing better than the four B's: books, boys, booze, and the beach.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️