As a keen participant of café culture, I’ve been eager to try out the coffee shops on campus since arriving. My budget has not. But with deadlines looming I’ve been getting very bored of sitting in my room on my bed doing work, and as my coffee abilities could be compared to a toddler’s I felt something needed to be done. So, with an eager flatmate in tow (thank you Lara), I embarked on a coffee shop tour of campus.
First stop: Starbucks
I’m not a massive fan of the chain; it’s pretty expensive compared to its rivals and there was that whole avoiding taxes thing. But hey, I’m willing to forget that for a decent hot chocolate. And even better; I can get to Starbucks from my bed without going outside. What’s not to love on a cold, rainy day?!
A nice seasonal cup and I even have a word document open (which looks suspiciously blank...)
Based in the SU, Starbucks is busy and vibrant. We went at about 1.30pm and there were loads of people meeting for lunch, studying with friends or utilising the pool tables. This doesn’t sound like the ideal work environment, I know, but the background noise gave it a nice buzz. We found some bar stall like seats, conveniently located by a plug, and got to work.
The drinks are much cheaper than the usual stores as we’re on campus which is nice for my purse, and I had a soya hot chocolate which was good. Would definately recommend. However; as it is so popular if you get distracted easily I’d recommend headphones if you want to study. However it’s so busy that there’s a nice atmosphere and it’s just a fun chilled-out place. As it’s located in the on-campus club it’s also entertaining to think/cringe at the thought of stupid things you’ve done on nights out where you’re now sitting studying.
Good: Prices, location, background noise
Bad: Can be difficult to get a seat
The Edge Café
The very next day we set off again. I was very excited to go to The Edge Café; I’m a big fan of independent cafes and from walking past a couple of times it looked really cute. We sat down at a big wooden table and started our work. I ordered myself a caramel latte without looking at the price list; its was 65p to add syrup to a coffee which seemed a bit extortionate to me, but hey, it was good. They have a huge cake and sandwich selection which all looked delicious, and it seems like a nice, relaxed place to work.
On my visit there was nice background music which was good to study to. My only issues were the lack of plugs (a common theme at Uni to be honest) which was a bit annoying as my friend’s laptop was running low. The big table was very useful though for spreading all my work out, and there was even a nice little plant on the table. We also sat by the door which was a bad choice as there was an annoying draught. Sorry to sound about 80, but actually when discussing it with other flatmates, they’d noticed it too.
We went at around 4.30 and it was busy but nothing like Starbucks. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood to work anyway, but I couldn’t concentrate very well because it was quiet enough that I could listen to other people’s conversations and get distracted. Definitely bring headphones. Other than that, very nice. Feels very much like you’ve left campus as it seemed to have a lot of visitors/lecturers in there having a drink which was nice.
Good: Attention to detail of decorations, food, ambience
Bad: Lack of plugs, a bit cold near the door
For this trip I abandoned Lara. My current deadlines involve a couple of group projects and little motivation, so my group and I arranged to meet in the Limetree in an attempt to make our work slightly more enjoyable. It’s definitely a lot nicer than meeting in one of our kitchens (wouldn’t be surprised to find a bit of old food stuck to my laptop if I risked putting it on a student halls’ kitchen table). Anyway, back to The Limetree.
I felt a bit silly taking photos of The Limetree in front of my group, but I assure you it's great!
Right by the bus stop, The Limetree is a big restaurant with loads of different cuisines. Whilst I’d ideally go to one of the booths to sit, the restaurant’s popularity means that I’ve had to settle for a table every time I’ve visited. Even so, I would definately recommend it. It’s bright, the tables are big and spacious and the music is good. I forgot to assess the plug situation which may have impacted on my opinion had my laptop had less battery. On Mondays to Thursdays from 8-8.30 you can take your own food container and fill it up for £2.50; our flat regularly attempt to fill the biggest containers possible in an attempt to feed ourselves for the week. I’m yet to sample the drinks but I’ve heard good things about the flat whites, which are cheaper than The Edge but don’t come with the complimentary cookie, and the bar there serves a local Bath ale, described as ‘the best beer I’ve had since I got here’.
I’m not sure what it is about it exactly, but I’m a big fan of the Limetree.
Good: Cheap food, good music, big tables
Bad: Potential lack of plugs, food is distracting
After a few days without a café trip, Lara and I headed out to 4West. The weather has been awful for the last few days and after running across The Parade under her umbrella I rushed to the till to get a drink. They have a particularly impressive selection; seasonal special drinks, offering to add mocha shots to drinks etc., and I settled for a soya vanilla chai latte; one of my favourite drinks which none of our other cafes have offered. It was £2.25 so a similar price to our other visits, and as you can see had a nice Christmas cup. It wasn’t very hot though, but after working in hospitality I refuse to be the kind of person who returns a coffee to get it reheated. So, I bravely drank it anyway.
4West is very popular which has put me off visiting in the past. But it’s busy for a reason; it’s really good. We managed to grab the last table (I felt very guilty as some girl wandered around aimlessly clutching a tray of food- oops) and started our work. At this current moment my laptop is on 16%, so the plug situation here will need to be assessed. It’s not looking promising, which is a shame. Apart from that it was ticking a lot of boxes. We’ve gone for a standard table but there are loads of low ones with comfy sofas. They also offer a wide range of food with loads of options for different diets which I’m always a fan of. Service is quick and they’ve even got some Christmas lights and a tree. No background music but a similar buzz to Starbucks so you don’t need it (unless you’re sat near interesting people and can’t help listening to their conversation, then headphones would be a good idea).
Good: Menu, chair selection, Christmas deocrations
Bad: Cold drink, lack of plugs
That brings our coffee shop tour to an end. Campus does have a number of other food outlets; the Fountain Canteen and Parade Bar especially should not be ignored. However; my budget isn’t really coping with these almost daily trips which I tell myself are essential. Nowhere on campus was even near bad, and I’d recommend a visit to all for somewhere different to study. They certainly beat the silent floor of the library in my opinion, where I attempted to open a packet of dried mango and felt like I was risking being killed by the people on the computers near me. As much as I’ve enjoyed these study spaces however, bed comes with the clear advantage that you can stay in your pyjamas. Which, as term goes on, is increasingly tempting…