By Bailey Pierson, E23 Reporter

If my first semester in college has taught me anything it’s that college kids love coffee. This did not necessarily surprise me with the late nights and early mornings that I have already experienced. I don’t know if I speak for everyone on campus, but the coffee in the dining halls is just not cutting it. Original creamer? No thank you! Where is the variety?

I, for one, have had the love of coffee and anything caffeinated running through my veins since I was a child, and I’m kind of a coffee snob. So, being the coffee connoisseur that I am, I thought, why not help my fellow students out and find the best cafés around Columbia? And since I am a dedicated journalist who only strives to help the citizens of this fine city, I went to six different cafés (Starbucks, The Ugly Mugg, Infusion, Kaldi’s, The Broadway Diner, and The Grind) and ranked them based on aesthetics, study potential, and of course, the quality of the coffee.

Kicking it off with our last place spot to stop is The Grind. Do not get me wrong, it is a quality place! Their playlist is quality, their décor is modern yet not too hipster, and their coffee is quality and something I would drink if I needed caffeine. But that’s just it- it’s quality. Nothing spectacular. The environment is good for studying because no one is really there, but if people are there be prepared for some crammed seating.

On to our fifth place café, Infusion. Now before anyone says anything, yes, I know this is not technically a “café”, and it is technically “in the student center”, but guess what? Their coffee is A1-Day1. “But Bailey, if their coffee is so good, why did you put it in fifth place?”. Well, I am glad you asked.

I love their coffee and the student center is a great place to study, but if we are being completely honest, it is not aesthetically pleasing! Brown and pink? What? Also, more times than not, I will order my staple iced caramel latte and… they won’t infuse the caramel in and I get giant glops of caramel when I drink. Instead I should be getting a consistent caramel flux.

Like the last café, this one is not necessarily a café. The Broadway Diner slides into fourth place. Say what you want about diner coffee, but they have the hook up. It is the Lamborghini of diner coffees. I like this diner coffee so much that it has been seen on my Instagram not once, but twice.

Now, with that said, it is still diner coffee. Straight up, black, coffee. Yes, they provide creamer in a variety of flavors including and not limited to Irish Cream, Caramel Macchiato, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, etc. Along with this, the booths are very spacious and good for studying, but if you go before like 9 pm there is no way you will get a good table due to the torrent flow of people trying to absorb the cuteness that is The Broadway Diner. This spot to stop is the definition of adorable diner.

Moving to Starbucks, which takes the third spot on our list. I actually feel bad placing Starbucks at third. Before I came to Columbia I would have probably placed it at the number one spot, but, college has changed me. I love me a good Starbucks study session and the vibe is very hipster, which I also love. The only thing is, Starbucks is so overdone. Starbucks is everywhere. Why go somewhere that you can find in every city when you can go to a small, cute, local café? Their coffee is great, the interior design is average and very earthy, and they are always moderately busy.

This next café was foreign to me until this past weekend when I went to explore the city in search of the rare and elusive coffee shop. The Ugly Mugg. Cute name, right? I was intrigued just by the name, so I had to check it out. It was definitely worth the trek. The inside kind of looks like the inside of my great grandparents’ basement, but I oddly liked it.

It wasn’t busy at all, so we had the pick of the tables. It was quiet and had great oldies tunes playing to set the mood for studying. I ordered my signature iced caramel latte and when they brought out my coffee I didn’t know what to think. It was given to me in a cup for hot coffee, so I was a little afraid that it would be wrong, but I was the one who was wrong. I took a sip and fell in love. First-rate coffee. I was astounded.

Last but not least, Kaldi’s. Since I first visited Columbia at the beginning of the summer, Kaldi’s has captured my coffee loving heart. Everything about it screams “I LOVE COFFEE, I AM HIPSTER, AND I CARE ABOUT MY STUDIES”. The vibe is very chill. Everyone studies there, yet it always seems to be quiet and you are able to do your work? How is that possible?

The coffee is definitely top notch, as well. My iced caramel latte always comes out perfectly mixed, the space is inviting, and it allows big groups of people to get together and study. Also, it is perfectly located right by campus, but also right by all the shops down town.

So, if you are a caffeine guzzling college student like me, I highly encourage you to take a look at the list and try all six! You never know what will strike your fancy! Plus it gives you a reason to buy coffee, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like an excuse to buy a bunch of coffee?

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