In honor of finals week, I thought I’d share with you some of the spots around Capitol Hill I go to study. I find that going somewhere to get work done makes me far more productive than trying to stay in my room (which usually results in me watching Netflix). For me, a good study spot has a few important requirements: good coffee, open late, and just the right amount of distractions. Big windows I can frequently look out of? Excellent. Loud music and some lady yammering on her cell phone for thirty minutes? Not quite as great. Everyone has their coffee shop favorites, and I’m sure there are still plenty of options I’ve yet to try. But here are some of my top picks, rated on a scale of 1-10, along with some not-quite-as-awesome options (but they still do the job, don’t worry).
As far as coffee in Capitol Hill goes, Kaladi is quite possibly my favorite. And that’s saying a lot, because there are about a million options. The baristas here are always friendly (a refreshing departure from the baristas at most other places) and the coffee here is excellent: strong but smooth. I’ve never had a drink I didn’t like, and while the prices aren’t the cheapest, I don’t mind paying a bit more than I would for a mediocre latte somewhere else. They also have a good selection of food here that includes not only pastries (from Macrina!) but “real” food like egg dishes and sandwiches. Kaladi shares a space with Gay City, which features an LGBTQ library and does a lot of great things for the Seattle gay community. Overall, the space is beautiful, with a sort of living room feel. There’s bar/counter type seating at the windows, and plenty of tables as well. For studying, I’ve found this makes a great place to go to; they’re open fairly late and it isn’t as noisy as some of the other places on the hill can get. The music playing is usually pretty mellow, and there’s seating options that suit plenty of seating needs (I like to sit by the window and get distracted by people walking outside, but that’s just me). The only downsides for me are that it’s a bit far, and it’s smaller than some other coffee shops and during busy times, it can be hard to find a table.
517 E Pike Street
Open until 10 pm every day, free wifi (no password needed)
Even though it’s a cupcake shop, Cupcake Royale serves good coffee and its free wifi and plenty of seating make it a good study spot. It’s also open late, so on week nights it’s a better option than Starbucks or other places that close kind of early. The main downside is that it gets loud and busy on weekend evenings, so on those nights it’s probably best to go somewhere else unless you’re willing to put up with groups of drunk people stopping for a sugar rush between bars. On weeknights though, it’s fairly quiet, and the big tables are great for spreading out papers and study materials. Plus…cupcakes.
1111 E Pike Street
Open until 10 SU-W, 11 TH-SA, free wifi
Not everyone likes Vita as much as I do, but I have a soft spot for the Capitol Hill location. Good, strong coffee, plenty of space, and some great people watching if you sit at one of the tables outside. There aren’t many food options (it’s only pastries, and I’m pretty sure they’re Macrina) but they’ve got a pretty standard menu for drinks. There’s also a good amount of seating, both downstairs and upstairs. Yeah…there’s an upstairs. Which I didn’t realize until this year. Upstairs tends to be a bit quieter, and there are tables by the window that are great if you’re going to be there for a while. Unlike some other coffee shops, many of the tables here are pretty big, so I don’t have to cram all my papers and books and computer in a too-tiny space for hours. There’s free wifi, and they’re open pretty late every day. The biggest downside is that it’s usually kind of noisy, so if you’re someone who needs quiet when working, this isn’t the place for you.
1005 E Pike Street
Open until 11, free wifi for customers
Okay, so Revolutions is in Green Lake, not Capitol Hill, but my favorite study spots list wouldn’t be complete without including it. I had to be in Green Lake Tuesday and Thursday afternoons this quarter and last for work, and I had a few hours to kill to get homework done. There’s a Starbucks nearby, but one day I couldn’t find parking in the *way too tiny* lot, so I ventured over to Revolutions. And I am so glad I did. Revolutions is welcoming and serves up great drinks. They also have homemade pastries that are yummy, and the baristas are pretty friendly. Price-wise it’s pretty standard. The space is fairly big and there’s a good assortment of seating: tables, couches, and a counter. It’s also usually nice and quiet and there’s free wifi, so getting work done is easy.
7012 Woodlawn Ave NE
Open until 7 on Mondays, and until 8 every other day, free wifi with password
Cherry Street Coffee – 4/10
1223 E Cherry St.
Overpriced food and drinks, and baristas are rude, slow, and cold 99.9% of the time (there’s one guy that works here that’s always really nice, though, so props to him). I feel like they don’t want me to be there, even though I’m shelling out $6 for tea and a pastry. There’s a pretty expansive food menu, so that’s a plus, and nice big tables, but they’re only open until 9 (and I feel like they actually close before then a lot of times). There’s not a ton of seating, but most of the tables are nice and big; it does get kind of loud though and when busy, the space has a bit of an echo to it. The music, while not bad, is a bit louder and more distracting than I like. I like how close it is to where I live, but the steep prices and attitude make me less-than-crazy about Cherry Street.
Elliott Bay Cafe – 6/10
1521 10th Ave. (inside the Elliott Bay bookstore)
EBC is open until 9 Mondays through Thursdays, and 10 on weekends (7 on Sundays, though), and it tends to be one of the quieter study spots regardless of time. Personally, I’m not crazy about staying here for very long, though…it’s in the back corner of the book store, so there aren’t any windows and it sort of feels like a dark cave to me. Plus, I always get the feeling they’re annoying by me staying there for hours and only buying drip (although I suppose most places are like that). Food, while offered, is expensive. I tend to stick to the baguette and jam when hungry, which is one of the cheaper options and is actually pretty delicious. The coffee here is decent– not the best, not the worst. EBC is a good place to go when working with a group, but it just has a sort of cold vibe to it…maybe it’s just me. Overall, it’s pricier than other options, and while it’s quiet, it’s dark and boring and too quiet for my personal preference.
Bauhaus – 6/10
301 E Pine St.
Bauhaus is open until 1am every day, which makes it ideal for late night study sessions. That being said, the main reason I’m not giving this a higher score is because it’s too far away from where I live. So if you live closer than I do, this might be a more worthy selection in your book. The baristas are usually pretty friendly, and the atmosphere is welcoming. There’s plenty of room since there are two stories, so while it does get crowded, there’s still usually an open table or two. However, coffee here is mediocre and pricey, and options are more limited than other places. And while I almost always love the music playing, it’s not the quietest coffee shop thanks to street noise and chatter. I love Bauhaus for people watching (besides Vita, it can’t be beat) but for studying, I’m not as much of a fan.