A caffeinated state of bean: where to get your coffee fix this school year


The Daily Illini File Photo

Cirina Nevarez, senior, settles in at Espresso Royale to study for her upcoming finals. Interim editor in chief Jessica Bursztynsky recommends Caffe Paradiso for studying and socializing.

By Jessica Bursztynsky, News editor

The night before I first toured campus was spent looking on Yelp for coffee shops.

As a former barista at a small independent shop, I’ve come to love the experience of spending my time studying or getting other work done while trying new brews. I’m highly convinced I’ve produced some of my best work because of this liquid strength.

The first shop I visited was the Espresso Royale on the corner of Oregon Street in Urbana. While I liked the coffee and space, I knew there was more to be found. And while everyone has their personal favorites, and there are plenty more locations, I’m laying out a few of the best I’ve found in the last year.

Café Kopi

Located in downtown Champaign, I first visited Café Kopi when I was trying to get out of the bubble that is campus. The space is large and has an outside patio, which is nice for lunch breaks. Serving a large variety of sandwiches, snacks, espresso drinks and tea, Café Kopi is a great spot for either studying or taking a parent to. What is especially helpful is that each table has an electrical outlet, so studying can take place as long as needed.

Flying Machine Coffee

As someone that has driven around several cities just to try coffee, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Flying Machine Coffee serves Dark Matter Coffee, a small Chicago roastery. Flying Machine, located in downtown Urbana, shares a location with Pizza M, so the space is a bit tricky for studying. Outlets are limited, so be sure to snag one of the seats by the window. Otherwise, I would recommend this place for a great latte after picking up treats from the farmers market on Saturdays.

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    Caffe Paradiso

    Located near McKinley Health Center, Caffe Paradiso is a great choice for anyone living in Urbana. Still close to campus, Caffe Paradiso provides a large, open space with plenty of tables. I would recommend stopping there on your way home from class. The atmosphere is good for both studying and meeting friends.

    The shop also serves sandwiches and other snacks, so you can fuel your brain a bit more. A nice selling point is that it serves Intelligentsia Coffee, a larger roastery out of Chicago.

    Starbucks on Green Street

    Sometimes you have to stick with the basics. A place I’ve grown to spend a lot of time is the Starbucks on Green Street (yes, exclusively that one). During school hours, seating is pretty open, but after 4 p.m. it’s hard to snag a table. However, outlets are available, coffee is constantly brewing and it’s close to the Main Quad. That’s hard to beat.

    Espresso Royale

    Espresso Royale has several locations across campus, so it really depends on what you need to get done. The Espresso on Oregon Street in Urbana is great for socializing. Grab a donut from Pandemonium in the morning and walk across the street for a coffee. The Espresso Royales in the Undergraduate Library and the Krannert Art Museum tend to be generally quieter and have ideal study spaces. What I have avoided at all costs, though, is the Espresso on East Daniel Street. The coffee and staff is great, but the location is small and sound carries, so it’s hard to concentrate on homework. Grab a drink from there and head to the Main Quad on a sunny day.

    My final piece of advice is to ask for a rewards card at each of these locations, or download the Starbucks app. You’ll usually snag a free drink after a certain amount of purchases, which helps the college student budget. Your future caffeine-addicted self will thank you.

    Jessica is a junior in Media.
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