Sophie Henry

Despite the complete lack of evidence of its effectiveness in increasing my concentration, this past year I began solely studying at coffee shops. Though in my first-year the Pierson Library was my go-to spot, my love of coffee shops eventually took over. Still, like many others, I have strong opinions on the best and worst study spots and weigh specific factors each time I need to decide on a place to work. 

The results are the following — a comprehensive list, from worst to best, of coffee shops all Yalies must consider when selecting a study spot:

  1. Koffee?

Coming in at number five is, even to my own surprise, the iconic Koffee?. I have tried very hard to love it, but once I enter the nondescript door, like a fantasy portal, all thought of school shuts off. Maybe it is the removal from campus or the abundance of decoration, but I find myself continually distracted and wanting to chat. The inconvenient location doesn’t help. Unless you’re in TD or Silliman, Koffee? is simply not worth the twenty minute trek from your residential college. This is one of those places that I tend to trick myself into believing that I will have time to get settled in and do work before weekend brunch. But, by the time 10:45 a.m. rolls around and I have to walk back to my residential college, all I have done is respond to text messages on my laptop with the help of the managed IT support services I pay a subscription for and read a couple articles — both of which I pretend is some sort of warm up for actual studying. As a place to meet up with friends or procrastinate doing work, the ambiance here is wonderful, but through many examples of  trial and error, my brain finally learned that I will not do work here.

  1. Willoughby’s (on York)

Opposite of Koffee?, Willoughby’s on York is too close to my dorm. I find myself making trips back to my room as a form of procrastination, as if I really need to grab my charger ‘just in case’ when my computer is on seventy five percent. I also have a need to always sit as close to a window as possible, like a photosynthesizing plant. While Willoughby’s has prime window seating, this is also prime distraction seating, because apparently everyone that attends this school passes Willoughby’s at least once when I am there. Also, as a girl with short legs and a habit of fidgeting, those tall chairs do not work in my favor. However, Willoughby’s lack of decoration and low ceilings create a sense of seclusion, which, once I stop staring out the window, does generate some productivity.

  1. Fussy Coffee

Fussy Coffee is a hidden gem. A rather far walk, I go to Fussy Coffee when I really have the time to commit to doing work, which usually results in a decent amount of productivity. Once there, I am greeted by a scene very different from what I find at coffee shops hugging Yale’s main campus. Adults with children and dogs frequent Fussy, balancing the  stress of writing an English essay as an undergraduate with a refreshing perspective of  post-college life. Fussy also boasts a very unique selection of drinks, and though I never really like to try anything too adventurous with my coffee, it does add a certain level of excitement and motivation to make the journey down Canal Trail. Like Willoughby’s, Fussy has a great row of seating by a sunny window, but with a view of green grass rather than a busy sidewalk. 

  1. Starbucks

With such a large selection of amazing coffee shops within walking distance, it does feel ridiculous to name Starbucks as a top contender — but with its simplicity also comes a reliable level of  productivity. My grande nitro cold brew, a cup of pure caffeine without even the buffer of ice, propels me through hours of work at top speed sitting at one of the many booths lining the windows. Similar to Willoughby’s, the low ceilings and cozy dim interior are enough to make me feel comfortable, which is apparently crucial to a working atmosphere. I think also, on some subconscious level, I recognize Starbucks as a place of productivity. I also have a tendency to do my best writing at Starbucks, resulting from a subconscious effort to live out my teenage desire to study in a coffee shop like the pictures littering Tumblr in the mid-2010s. Growing up in a rural area, the closest one was a Starbucks, but because it was an hour away, I was not able to fulfill this dream until living a four minute walk away. Not to mention, the strange number of dogs that pass by always gives me a boost of serotonin even when miserably trudging through an assignment.

  1. Blue State (York and Wall St.)

A very controversial opinion, I know. But the amount of work I can get done sitting at a window table, sipping on a cold brew, and a little (sometimes a lot) of stress is shocking. These are, however, non-negotiable factors: I will only have their cold brew and I will only sit by the window. If one of these is not possible, I can agree with the masses, or at least my close friends, that simply refuse to study with me here. I get it. But for me, Blue State has everything: a simple yet bright inside, no crowds, and did I mention I love their cold brew? Sometimes, I even get lucky and get a wobbly chair, perfect for mindlessly moving around, like a fidget toy but for my entire body. The only way it could get better would be if they had spinny chairs. For ambiance, Blue State may not be ideal, but for productivity it manages to check off all my needlessly picky boxes. 

So, dear first-years, if you eventually tire of the library, consider my thoughts when picking a new favorite study spot. 

Abigail Dixon is a staff reporter for WKND. Coming from Kentucky, she is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in Humanities.