Photo Carter Brundage and Will McDonald / The Ubyssey
With it being midterm season right now, the need for coffee and caffeine is at an all-time high. While there is no shortage of places on campus to purchase some of that sweet, sweet nectar, the differences between all of those locations are quite significant.
That is why we assembled an esteemed panel of UBC coffee drinkers to review what nearly all of UBC’s coffee shops have to offer. What’s the quickest? What’s the most convenient? What place has coffee that tastes like heaven and which ones have drinks that taste like liquid dirt? Read on to make a well-informed decision the next time your eyelids are starting to droop. (For more info, check out our October 28 print issue of The Ubyssey and our video).
Panel: Sarah Bigam, Kanta Dihal, Jenica Montgomery, Parmida Esmaeilpour, Samia Khan.
Great Dane Coffee
SB: Great Dane is a classy, quiet little gem hidden behind Gage on the north side of campus. It’s the kind of place where you want to get your coffee to stay and sit by the window with a croissant — which is most likely why it’s so frequented by profs. Definitely worth checking out once in a while, if you don’t mind shelling out a couple extra dimes.
PE: This place is very cozy and inviting. It’s tucked away so a lot of people don’t generally walk by but it is worth the detour; the staff are friendly and they put a lot of effort into making the drinks, and their sandwiches taste heavenly. Plus, they have an abundance of seating, indoors and outdoors, making this a really nice place to study.
JM: A little gem, Great Dane Coffee, located behind Gage Towers, has some of the best coffee on campus. This nutty and rich cup of coffee won’t disappoint you. Not only do they have some of the best drip coffee, but they also have a variety of hot and cold drinks to clench your palette. Though their pastry selection can be lacking, and the shop itself can get crowded, the coffee, reasonable prices, and welcoming atmosphere will bring you back for more.
SK: One of the best places to grab coffee on campus. The cafe has an atmosphere that’s almost too nice to actually study in, with student art hanging on the walls and quality music playing. I had their organic and fair trade coffee of the day, Dominican Republic Polo, and it lived up to its description of being a smoky medium dark roast with a chocolatey finish. The coffee wasn’t as hot as I would’ve liked, but it tasted great nonetheless. Overall: A-
SB: Boulevard definitely has atmosphere and food choices that you won’t find anywhere else on campus. Personally I’m not too partial to the taste of their coffee, but if you’re willing to make the journey out there, it’s a nice place to meet up with friends. Overall: B-
PE: The Boulevard really goes above and beyond what you would expect of a cafe. Their dedication to the environment and the amount of detail in their work is appropriate for a university. They have detailed descriptions of their coffees (online too), down to the exact region and elevation it was made at, and the same goes for their teas. A lot of places are fair trade, but the Boulevard takes it to another level, which gives you the cafe experience that you deserve for your money. Overall: A+
KD: Most people will go here for the mouthwatering cookies, but the coffee is cheap and produced fast. I was still digging up my cash when my mug was returned to me full of very decent coffee. Speaking of cash, you get 25 cents off your order if you bring you own mug: being eco-friendly pays off. Another big plus of Blue Chip is that their coffee menu is easy to understand: three different types of coffee, depending on how strong you’d like it. Unfortunately this leaves you with nothing to do in the huge queue at lunchtime. Overall: B
JM: Nothing is more satisfying than grabbing a Blue Chip cookie after studying all day in Irving K Barber. Located in the SUB, it is the most convenient coffee shop on campus that also provides some of the best coffee and baked goods. The only downside to Blue Chip is the long line that can form during the busier parts of the day, but after a long day of studying, writing midterms and listening to lectures, a Blue Chip cookie can be the best thing to soothe your woes. I suggest the Marbelous cookie for days like that. Overall: B+
SB: Blue Chip, famous for its cookies, has some surprisingly good coffee, not to mention it’s one of the cheapest on campus. The line dies down quickly when it’s not between 11:50 and 2:00, so come by any other time to skip the line. Overall: B
SK: (Reviewing the one in the SUB). The reason most people drop by this Starbucks is less for its coffee quality and more for its convenient location. I usually grab a tall Pike on the way to class, knowing full well it’s not going to be the best coffee I’ve ever had. Despite the usual Starbucks bitter/almost burnt taste, the SUB Starbucks is a go-to for a quick caffeine fix. Overall: B-
KD: (the one in the Village). Surprisingly enough for a chain that usually charges the highest latte prices around the world, the Starbucks at the Village is really quite affordable. I would especially recommend their seasonal brews – in autumn, try the Pumpkin Spice Latte. What makes this particular Starbucks great is that they didn’t ask for my name when I went there. I always hate having to say my name at Starbucks, because they’ll mess it up anyway. What would really make my day, though, is if the staff would look like they were enjoying their job. A smile won’t cost you a thing, dear people. Overall: B+
PE: If you’re a fan of over-priced coffee, long line-ups and roasted beans, Starbucks is the place for you. The only reason to come to Starbucks is because of their hours and their convenient locations. Their drinks are always a little off-tasting, so for people who like the option of customizing their drinks: if it was made right in the first place, you wouldn’t feel the need to add anything. Overall: D
SB: Starbucks is Starbucks; there’s one on every corner. If you’re away from home and looking for something familiar, go for it, but beware of the vicious cycle – Starbucks has the highest caffeine level of any coffee on campus, and you’re sure to get yourself addicted if you keep coming back there. No, I don’t actually know this for sure, but I just had a small black coffee from there and my fingers sure are shaking as I type this. I’d recommend branching out to the other (better) coffee options on campus. Overall: B
Museum of Anthropology
KD: Please don’t say you’ve never been there – it’s a great museum, and you can get in for free as a UBC student. Aside from that, they have a pretty neat café, where I got the most amazing chai latte. Absolutely avoid the Americano, though; my brother and I couldn’t get more than a sip of it down. Overall: C+
JM: After spending hours lost in the Museum of Anthropology, you can grab coffee and a hot meal from the MOA café. This particular coffee shop is most likely the least busy of all the cafés on campus, but provides all the same amenities as any other UBC Food Services run coffee establishment. The coffee isn’t the greatest, and every once and a while the baked goods can be a little stale, but the prospect of a warm meal with little wait will reel you in. Having free admission to a beautiful museum is just an added bonus. Overall: B+
Bean Around The World
SK: My favourite coffee shop on campus. This spacious, high-ceilinged cafe is located on the outskirts of campus, on Main Mall and Thunderbird Blvd. I had their (also organic and fair trade) coffee of the day, Ismam Mayan medium roast. This was the best cup of coffee I had that day; hot and with a mellow, pleasant flavour. I’m definitely coming back. Overall: A
Stir It Up
JM: Long lines await you after classes let out at Stir It Up, located on the first floor of Buchanan building A. The coffee is mediocre, the food is overpriced, but man, is it convenient. Sometimes after a long class you just need a cup of coffee, or bubble tea (yes, they serve bubble tea), Stir It Up has what you need, but that’s about all. Overall: C+
PE: Caffe Perugia has a nice ambience and more seating space than your usual cafe. The range of different seating makes this a good place to study. Their Milano coffee is priced decently – you get what you pay for. The best reason to come here is for their food. Fresh panini’s and soup make for a delicious and healthy option. But, since this is a cafe rating, Perugia gets a C+ for it’s mediocre coffee and overall beverage options.
KD: Serving probably the cheapest coffee you can buy anywhere on campus, Sprouts gives you a steaming mug from a thermos jar for 75 cents. Of course, the coffee itself is nothing fancy, but if you crave for something black and bitter to keep you going for a very low price, go here. Otherwise, go for the atmosphere: your coffee comes in a proper mug (bring one yourself, though, if you have one), which makes you want to stay there and hang out with the volunteers just a little longer. Overall: B
PE: This super comfy place is one of the best study spots on campus. They have 2 floors of comfy sitting spots just for you to finish studying with. The muffins are delicious, the drinks are just as yummy, and the chocolate covered almonds they serve with every drink should be the final push for you to come check it out. Overall: A+