Beat the ‘Bucks

For students who live on campus, it is difficult to venture off the beaten path on State Street to find new and different coffee shops to try. Especially if you are running late, places like Espresso Royale or Starbucks are conveniently located right next to class. If you have a little more time, like a weekend afternoon during which you need to study, head to a coffee shop slightly out of the way. Not only will you find a different atmosphere because fewer customers will be traveling through, but other local coffee shops offer a change of scenery when you feel cabin fever during midterms.

With the bold blue hue of the walls, several large overstuffed couches, and the buzz of Indie Rock music, Electric Earth Cafe on West Washington not only serves a variety of Fair Trade coffees to heighten the senses, but creates an atmosphere in which creativity and conversation can flow. Electric Earth is the ultimate coffee lounge. Its bakery includes many vegan-friendly pastries and the soups and sandwiches are, in my opinion, better than the drinks. The prices are extremely reasonable; a small coffee costs $1.50 and a small latte is $2.75. Students can study inside with free Wi-Fi, or sit outside during warmer weather. During the month of October Electric Earth will feature artwork from the PhotoMidwest exhibition. For those students further from the capitol, Electric Earth has a second location on North Randall.

Another coffee shop resides that resides on the corner of West Washington and Fairchild is Barriques Coffee Trader. Barriques is a full service coffee and espresso bar, offers soups and sandwiches, pastries and chocolates; and at night serves tap beer, wine, and a limited cocktail menu. Barriques brews Alterra coffee and also offers a selection of wines from its Wall of 100, and at its several other locations will host wine tastings. A coffee costs $1.65, and a latte is priced at $2.80. At its West Wash location, with two stories and free Wi-Fi, students can often see their professors working at their laptops. The cool, hip atmosphere is noticeable both inside and on the outdoor patio with metalwork made by welded machine parts and utensils; and quiet, airy music to study to.

For students near Camp Randall, the best coffee shop to head to is Indie Coffee on Regent. It offers top-rate coffee with sizes dubbed Wingra for a small, Monona for a medium, and Mendota for a large; and also features live music several nights a week. Although the shop is much smaller and therefore difficult to spend an entire day studying, the back patio is tucked away and offers a haven from the noise on the street. Along with a range of hot and cold drinks, Indie serves sandwiches like a honey, fig and goat cheese for $6.75; and waffles every day, all day including The Works made with walnuts, chocolate chips, strawberries and whipped cream for $6.25.

Other coffee shops to check out in the downtown area:
Michelangelo’s Coffee House
114 State Street, Madison, WI 53703

Two Degrees Coffee Shop
307 W Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53703

Fair Trade Coffee House
418 State Street, Madison, WI 53703

Steep and Brew
544 State Street # 1, Madison, WI 53703

Mother Fool’s Coffee House
1101 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703

Muddy Waters Espresso Cafe
1 N Randall Avenue, Madison, WI 53715

Etes-Vous Prets
1250 E Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703

Ancorra Coffee Roasters
1859 Monroe Street, Madison, WI 53711

Escape Java Joint and Gallery
916 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703


3 responses

  1. I *love* little independent coffee shops! If only I lived in Madison…

    December 3, 2008 at 10:31 pm

  2. Krista

    My favorite is EVP. It doesn’t offer much in the way of food but the coffee is the best in Madison, by far.

    December 4, 2008 at 1:39 pm

  3. Rachel

    Bradbury’s at the corner of north hamilton and e dayton makes amazing coffee and espresso. It’s small and doesn’t have wi-fi, so it’s not a study place, but the coffee is a treat!

    December 5, 2008 at 4:56 pm

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