My Guide to the Valley’s Coffee Shops + My Study Playlist

             By week three of fall semester, campus starts to feel just as small as all the Juniors and Seniors told you it would. Picture this: you’ve been reading the past 2.5 hours and the words on your page begin to render meaningless. You can’t help but feel distracted by the vent blowing freezing air on you. The worst part: you forgot your favorite hoodie in your dorm across campus. After spending hours on all three floors of Blanch and in every nook and cranny of the library, caffeine and an aesthetically pleasing change of scenery is just what you need. So put on that cozy sweater you thrifted last weekend, get off campus, order a pumpkin spice latte, and read those 237 pages for your anthropology class. The following are some of my favorite coffee shops in Northampton, South Hadley, and Amherst, plus a playlist to ensure that your café study sessions are full of pleasant, autumnal vibes


Sylvester’s is a Northampton café bakery attached to a local farm-sourced brunch spot. Their specialty lattes are the highlight, so I recommend the Mt. Holyoke (caramel + hazelnut + chocolate), Amherst Almond (vanilla + almond), or the Vermonter (sweetened with 100% real maple syrup). The best part: they all come with two shots of espresso, so you’ll have those jitters that allow you to type 87 words per minute. Sit at one of the tables or arm chairs near the window for some sunlight while you finish that paper you’ve been procrastinating.

Patisserie Lenox

Patisserie Lenox is just up the street from Sylvester’s, yet it feels like stepping into a pastry shop in Paris. In fact, I recently posted a picture taken there and received a DM asking if I live in France… sadly I do not. Judging by the number of classy older women sharing macarons and ‘spilling tea’ at the tables out front, I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. Patisserie Lenox has pastry cases filled with croissants, macarons, and tartes, plus a gourmet selection of coffees, teas, and seasonal drinks. Why sit on your phone scrolling through espresso-and-croissant-filled café food porn on Instagram when you could be living it? Order the Parisian hot chocolate and a macaron then do some studying or leisure reading… just don’t forget to document it on your Insta story!

Thirsty Mind

This one is painfully obvious but nonetheless wonderful. Venture across the street to the Village Commons and find a cozy corner amidst the many bookshelves in Thirsty Mind. Order something seasonal; my go-to is a Maple Spice Latte and mini gluten-free pumpkin bread. Put on your headphones, get out your planner and notebooks (color-coordinated of course), and bask in your “VSCO girl” fall aesthetic.

The Works Café

The Works in Amherst is perfect for a Saturday afternoon. After exiting the PVTA (glamorous, I know) make a stop at the Amherst Farmers’ Market. Allow yourself to take a moment and obsess over the fresh flowers and baby pumpkins, then head to The Works for lunch and speedy Wi-Fi. They have coffee and smoothies and everything from organic ancient grain power bowls to artisan sandwiches. Once you’ve reworked and submitted that assignment you’ve been dreading, pat yourself on the back, and make one last stop across the street at MASS Vintage for a collection of fun 80’s and 90’s T-shirts and hoodies.

Now as promised, here is my study playlist for when that coffeehouse indie just isn’t doing it for you:  

“Malibu 1992” by COIN

“Cherry Cola” by Kuwanda

“Still” by The Japanese House

“The Wave” by Colouring

“Better Than” by Lake Street Drive

“Beige” by Yoke Lore

“We Find Love” by Daniel Caesar

“Face Like Thunder” by The Japanese House

“Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend

“Upper West Side” by King Princess

“The General Specific” by Band of Horses

“20 Something” by SZA

“Valerie (acoustic cover)” by Corey Gray

“Bluffin” by Khalid

“Lost In The Light” by Bahamas

“1950” by King Princess

“Magic In The Hamptons” by Social House & Lil Yachty

“210 Lilac Sky” by Goody Grace

“Cherry Wine” by Hozier

“Cool Blue” by The Japanese House

“Talia” by King Princess  





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