I spend a great deal of my professional (and personal) time in coffee shops. I picked up the habit of studying in coffee shops in university. Sometimes it was really good to get out of the dorm, library or bowels of MacKimmie Tower. Since moving to Calgary, I have been slowly making my rounds and visiting so many different coffee shops. It helps that I love coffee, and going to to a cafe and people watching is a great afternoon. Even as a post-graduate, real world working girl, I like to scout out the best places to get some work done. So here the best coffee shops in Calgary to study, play and work.
What makes a coffee shop good enough for my list? I evaluate locations based on five criteria:
- Coffee Quality: only high-quality coffee need apply. I'm talking carefully selected and roasted beans expertly pulled and crafted. (Hint: not Starbucks)
- Space: you need space to spread out and stay a while. Those shops that have a limited space or even tiny tables generally don't make the list. And if you want to bring a friend, you're gonna need even more space.
- Plug-ins: if you plan on staying somewhere for a while, plugins are necessary. A good study spot should have ample, accessible plug-ins.
- Menu: you can't live on coffee alone (wouldn't it be great if you could, though?!), so a cafe that has a good menu, even if it is just a couple sandwiches, is important to keeping your fueled and focused.
- Accessibility: a good coffee shop will be easy to get to. This includes available and affordable parking. If you don't drive, it should be relatively close to a bus stop or train line.
Ready to find out which YYC coffee shops made the cut?
Here we go!
Phil & Sebastian
This shop always makes the top of the list. Their coffee is always amazing and expertly crafted. Their baristas go through rigorous training to pull a shot appropriately. And if you ever observed them while they are making your coffee, there is usually one person testing and analyzing technique to pull the perfect espresso shot or perform a solid pour over. The care they take to create your coffee is amazing. Each location has a ton of space to spread out and work, menus complete with goodies from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and many have quite a few plugins. The location that meets all my criteria: Marda Loop. (Free parking!)
This one has been the most lucrative for me. I usually go here to people watch as it has a great view of 17th Avenue. It also has plenty of plugins, lots of parking, good food, and great coffee! If you go during peak times, finding a seat can be tough. If you can score a seat close to a plugin, settle in.
Vintage Caffeine Co.
These guys are fairly new to the mix, opening just this year. I've been a couple times, and they've crafted a milky and sweet latte and grilled a delicious turkey sandwich for me. It is a small space, so if it's busy, you may not get a seat. However, if you do, you will be very close to a plugin wherever you sit. And there is plenty of street parking a couple blocks away. Be aware that some of the parking is by permit only, so avoid parking in those spaces.
This was my go-to in university. It is in the NW, so it's pretty close to the university. It has an extensive menu and a variety of specialty coffee concoctions. (The Snow Dragon is so good!) It's very spacious, but the same issue here: if it's busy, tables are slim. My advice is if you can go early and park yourself there. There are couple parking lots and parkades within walking distance of the cafe as well as street parking. The tables are large enough to spread out with your books, notes and computer and have your coffee nearby. Higher Ground also has a fireplace in the middle of the cafe, which is so nice and cozy during the winter semester.
Also located in Kensington, Vendome is another one of my favorites. While their coffee is good, their menu is great! I usually get there as they open, which is 7am, to take advantage of the breakfast menu. I can't get enough of their garden eggs benny. They have lots of space, with plug-ins appropriately scattered. My only advice is don't go to study or work on a weekend. They actually turn off the WIFI! However, I highly recommend going for lunch.
Also relatively new, I have frequented this cafe more times than I care to disclose. It's such a nice space - open, airy and minimal. They can brew a good americano and craft a pretty good eggs benny. While this place is great to study and work, I recommend going after 6pm as parking can get costly. And while plug-ins are a little scarce, there is the gorgeous fireplace on the top level. And if you want to study with friends, they have a great communal table.
Right now, I am loving the Rosso location in Inglewood. I love driving to Inglewood because it's like a little adventure. I generally stop at Well Juicery, where I pick up some of my favorite treats from Little Tucker. And I usually spend a bit of time updating my wardrobe at Adorn Boutique. Annddd, then I make my way to Rosso for a little work. They have amazing coffee, the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had, lots of space, great parking and plenty of plugins.
So that's the list; however, I have some honorable mentions. These are places that I love visiting for personal reasons, never been but heard great things about, haven't visited enough to properly evaluate, or would love to put on the list, but would make my list too long.
- Wise and Wright
- Caffe Beano
- Kawa Espresso Bar
- Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar
- Deville Coffee
- Purple Perk
What's your favorite place to study?