I’m of the opinion that coffee is essential to studying.
While it’s easy enough to make coffee at home, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the apartment for a bit and avoid cabin fever.
I think it’s worth discussing the options available to us on or near campus. For the sake of organization, let’s begin closest to home.
The on-campus coffee houses can hardly be called as much. Let’s be honest: whether it’s Jimmy’s, Northern Lights or Kerckhoff, they’re crowded & stuffy and serve subpar food & overpriced coffee, especially considering the quality of the drinks. There are one or two on-campus spots, like Untitled or Synapse, that put on like they’re an upscale location, but it’s just the same mediocre coffee. In the case of the latter, by the time you get that far south you may as well just continue into Westwood.
There’s the obvious options, Coffee Bean or Starbucks, but do you really want to do that to yourself or your loved ones? If you want to go there, just go to Peet’s, even though they don’t offer an abundance of seating. For as much as I wouldn’t recommend Peet’s for studying, it’s the best bet nearby for affordable beans by the pound.
Elysee Bakery is closest to campus and open reasonably late. They offer wireless internet and have a few electrical outlets, but the amenities end there. The coffee and pastries are decent, but far too expensive to enjoy without regret. The location can get cramped and the tables are too small for efficient use of space. I’ve been chewed out by the wait staff for combining two tables because it looked “messy”. On that note, there’s a large table near a set of outlets in the back that always has a “Reserved” sign on it and yet is never in use. The staff has a bad attitude at best: I was once reminded that Elysee is “not a library,” which was disappointing because I’d been under the distinct impression that it was. After my last bad experience I made the decision never to go back. Recommend this spot only to people you don’t like.
Novel Café is just across the street from Elysee and I discovered it after leaving from an unpleasant experience at the latter. There’s nothing wrong with it necessarily, but there’s nothing special about the place either. It has an unmemorable vibe and because it is more a café than a coffee house, the diners can get kind of loud and distracting. They have both wifi and outlets available and don’t get pushy if you only want to have drinks. The coffee is in-between, but there’s a solid selection where food is concerned. The Orange Julius is tasty, but it’s more like a 50/50 shake than the childhood favorite it borrows its namesake from.

Latte

The best option Westwood has to offer is Espresso Profeta. The atmosphere is relaxing, simple & inviting. There’s rotating art displayed on the walls and the patio is comfortable and quiet. The staff is down-to-earth and easy to talk to, and I haven’t ordered anything I disliked. The espresso beverages are made from doppio ristretto extractions and the Caffe Nico is not to be missed. The menu is basic: just drinks and pastries. The only bummer is that the place closes at 7, so late-night study sessions aren’t an option. And, even though they have wifi, there are no electrical outlets.
Heading west, you’ll find Literati. For as much as the Bar & Grill next door has delicious food and a pretty decent Bloody Mary, the café is hit or miss. It is often too cramped inside and the wait staff can be a bit slow putting together the drinks that are nothing special by the time they arrive. I get what they were going for with the décor, but it feels too Martha Stewart meet Bukowski for me.
In the same area, there’s also the Coral Tree Cafe. Like Literati, it stays open reasonably late. The clientele have their nose up in the air, so don’t plan on rolling in wearing pajamas or anything. It’s Brentwood, after all. Parking can be a bit tricky, so plan on cruising around for a few if you don’t want to go the valet route. There’s wireless internet and decent but expensive food. The French Onion soup should have more cheese in it. The coffee could stay or go, but does the trick.
212 Pier. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth the drive. The atmosphere and food are both great. There are a range of options on the menu, both healthy & snacky, and the prices are fair. The coffee is decent. You get what you pay for here. There’s wireless internet, that comes and goes as it pleases, and plenty of outlets. The place has some rad lofted spaces and lots of old books for when you need to take a break from the task at hand. But this spot can also get packed with crazies: one of the last times I was there I was verbally assaulted by a homeless woman for not having integrity. A noteworthy perk is that 212 Pier is open 24 hours.

Intelligentsia

Furthest from home is Intelligentsia in Venice. I’ll admit, the name and appearance of the place put me off the first time I went. It appears to be somewhat pretentious, but the baristas are all friendly and knowledgeable. There’s not much seating and the shop closes relatively early, but Intelligentsia does have wifi and electrical outlets. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this location sells some of the best coffee you will ever taste, at least in southern California. And, if you’re lucky enough to have the kind of comfortable living situation where you’re able to enjoy coffee at home, they also sell a variety of roasts by the bag. The environment straddles being clean and feeling sterile; I get what they’re going for, but it’s difficult to get comfortable sometimes. There’s also the fact that it’s all the way in Venice. But if you have the time, Intelligentsia is worth the drive.
Whatever you go with, enjoy & good luck studying.

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