Nosh hunt: The quest for the cheapest latte on campus

For many students, a cup of coffee in the afternoon is a spark of joy on an ordinary day. However, as prices continue to rise, the question of where to find the cheapest coffee on campus arises.

Although drip coffee is generally cheaper — and, for the record, the $1 cup at Sprouts is the best deal around — I’m going to take you through a ranking of espresso price and quality on campus for those that crave a bougie boost of caffeine.

The Boulevard Coffee Roasting & Co.

We begin with the most expensive latte on campus: $5.48 for 12 oz! With this price, I was expecting an incredible coffee. The espresso was indeed rich and the ratio of milk and espresso struck a perfect balance. However, it wasn’t exceptionally well-executed compared to other cafes. Another thing that added to the overall experience is the service: I really appreciated the friendly barista’s patience for explaining a few of their drinks before I reluctantly ordered a good old latte.

It is worth mentioning to adventurous sippers that one of their selling points is their wide array of drinks, including Vietnamese coffee and lavender vanilla lattes.

A drawback was the difficulty in finding a spot. Compared to JJ Bean, the shop has fewer seats. If the price for coffee does not include a study space, it doesn’t really justify itself.

JJ Bean

First runner-up of most expensive latte on campus: a 12 oz latte costs $5.00. JJ Bean is well known for its coffee quality and it didn’t disappoint. In terms of efficiency, the process from making to serving the latte was slower compared to the other two. It may be a less suitable choice if you are in a rush.

The latte art was bubbly and dissolved by the time I got to the counter. Noticing that, the barista offered to remake it. Although I declined their offer, their dedication for coffee and customer satisfaction made up for the presentation.

Loafe Cafe

Loafe Cafe and Great Dane both sell a 12 oz latte at $4.75. Based on my past experiences of Great Dane’s watered-down coffee, I decided to go to Loafe Cafe. The coffee beans from Loafe seem to have a more fruity flavour compared to Boulevard and JJ Bean. I carefully took a sip of the latte and the temperature was just right — I have burnt and scarred my tongue before from an extremely hot coffee, but Loafe's latte was gentle.

The efficiency was also impressive. Loafe is usually packed around the clock but surprisingly, my latte was served in less than five minutes. Not only does the cafe have a large outdoor area to enjoy the sunlight and breeze, but it also has a spacious indoor seating — an ideal place for working or studying.

Blue Chip Cafe

In terms of price for lattes, Blue Chip Cafe is the winner with a 12 oz latte costing $4.50. I’ll say the latte was average, but may return for another one if I want to save a dollar or so. The line for the main cafe was scarily long but I went to the express store so that made up for efficiency. Blue Chip is also one of the staunchest allies to the alternative milk community as they now offer non-dairy milk substitutions at no extra cost on Mondays (the rest of the week, your oat latte will run you up an extra $0.75).

Unfortunately, the Blue Chip only has six tables so I haven’t been able to study there — although that may change when it moves to the old Pie R Squared space next term.