It's that time of the year again- finals season :( Admit it, a lot of us don't do any hardcore studying until at least 2 weeks before exams (although yes we should be studying all year round..). This year, I've found that studying in public areas helps me focus on the task at hand a lot better than the comfiness of my room so I've been able to do my share of coffeeshop/cafe hunting lately. Here's just a small list of some places that I've found good for study sesh time :)  (p.s. these just happen to be around my bus route to school so I'm more likely to go to these ones)

 

Bean Around the World

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I recommend the one on West Hastings near Victory Square since it's close to downtown and has a great set of window seats for some more-than-decent natural lighting (helps with keeping you awake when you're ploughing through textbooks and notes). There's a decent amount of seating, food/drink isn't bad but it can get pretty busy sometimes and maybe even loud so I'd recommend plugging in your earphones and listening to your lecture recordings or music of your choice.


Basho Cafe 

I'll admit I've been doing a lot of new-and-upcoming-vancouver-restaurant stalking lately and I came across Basho Cafe a few weeks ago when it caught my eye as a family run Japanese cafe (there aren't that many in Vancouver). I've literally been counting the days for this little establishment to open its doors so it's to no surprise that I jumped right to it when I got off class today.

Let me just stop right here and say that the moment I stepped into Basho, it was love at first sight.

Upon arriving, I realized how cute and homey this place is. It's snug and caters to a variety of cafe seating enthusiasts: those who like comfy couches, those who like conventional restaurant seating, those who like wooden communal tables, and those who like bar seats that face the street (like me!). I hear that everything (even the furniture) is home made. The cash register looks pretty rad too- I've never seen a register with a polished wood case.

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I intended to just stop by for a light snack so I ordered the Afternoon Set (which is only available after 2pm). It includes a matcha latte with an assortment of little Japanese sweets for a total of $5.25. I loved how the latte was served in a large wooden cup, perfect for wrapping both my cold hands around to help keep them warm. I hate it when places make matcha artificially sweet.. I mean matcha is supposed to be matcha, right? Basho does it right and keeps the natural earthy taste without overwhelming the whole drink. Also, it was rich and had just the right amount of foam on top to be considered a latte. The drink was accompanied by three little cookies on the side. One sesame cookie (light and nutty), one matcha cookie (nice and lightly matcha tasting), and a matcha "sandwich" cookie (a good balance of earthy matcha-ness and sweet). If matcha is a bit bitter for you, I feel like the cookies will help to balance it all out :)

Let me just say, I love food that tastes great, but I love food even more when it looks great as well. Basho has both of them covered (at least from what I tasted in my set). The Kawai family (the family that runs Basho) is so friendly and sweet- they don't hesitate to create small talk with their customers. I'm curious about the rest of their menu though; like the Teri Pulled Pork and their Basho Chai Latte. I'll definitely be back to have a taste for more of their food/drinks while lounging with my textbooks.

 

 

Coffeebar

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So I'm live blogging for the first time! (Blogging while eating at the place I'm writing about) I've been on the hunt for cafes to study and have a nice drink at after class so...here I am at my first stop! Coffeebar is located in the middle section of Gastown, just a bit of a walk away from the Waterfront skytrain station. In such a trendy area, it's no surprise that the atmosphere at Coffeebar is nothing less than cool and quirky. The cafe provides plenty of seating (and free WiFi!) and is furnished with all sorts of rustic, stylish chairs and wall decorations. I particularly like the seating in the back which is surrounded by fully glass walls. Nothing beats a bit of natural light when you're studying! 

As for food, I decided to get a regular Earl Grey loose leaf tea and a peanut butter cookie. So here's where my problem starts. On the menu, it says that regular tea costs around $2.86 so I was surprised when I saw the price for a large tea (~$3.50) entered into the register. I told her that I wanted a regular, but she kept insisting that they didn't sell regular teas....despite it being right there on their menu. She asked her coworker beside her who didn't understand why they didn't regular tea wasn't available either. So either I was scammed...or they really need to change/update their menu to avoid customer confusion. Anyways, the total for my food was roughly $7.50 which in my opinion is not cheap at all. I can understand why the cookie is a bit over $3 but why is the tea so much more expensive than the coffees? Then again, everything in Gastown is around that price point. I should really remind myself of that. Well despite that, I find myself liking the cookie. It's slightly crumbly and has the classic peanut butteryness to it. Also... it's massive. The cookie is larger than the size of my hand. The tea on the other hand is just normal. I mean I'm not sure how they could improve loose leaf tea.


Pros: Trendy and relaxing atmosphere Close to transit Good WiFi and provides quite a lot of seating

Cons: It's Gastown...it's not cheap! Misleading menus/staff which are not knowledgeable of the cafe's menu At times, it's a bit loud so it might not be your go-to place to study The food isn't really anything special

So will I be back? Maybe, if I don't have any other place in mind. The only thing I really like about this place is the atmosphere. Everything else is pretty mediocre. Sorry, I'm not a fan (yet).


Revolver

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Great coffee and great staff but very limited seating. Every time I give this place a visit (with the exception of one time), I can only afford to grab a coffee to go. The coffee is crazy good too, it's musty and strong; no milk needed. If you can snag a seat here, it's definitely a great place to stay and smell the beans. Great decor and good choice of music. Since seating is so limited, the noise levels aren't too crazy so you can probably concentrate on your textbooks without too much trouble (I hope).

 

Matchstick Coffee

Thanks to Matchstick opening up a new location in Chinatown, it's much more easily accessible to me than the old location. Very decent coffee, nice staff, great seating, and plentiful amounts of natural light if you get the right seats.

 

Platform 7

This place is definitely a gem and it's not too far from Basho Cafe either. Platform 7 oozes with style as it's modelled to look like an old European train station. It's rustic, it feels authentic and I love it. Friendly staff and delightfully good coffee. I've yet to try their baked good though. Not as much natural lighting as the previous establishments but it works!

 

I know that Starbucks, Blenz, and Waves are reasonable options too but c'mon, why go to those places when there are plenty of coffee gems out there?

There are a lot of places I haven't been to and I'd love to hear any suggestions for other good coffee/study places so shoot them my way! :) Hope this list gives you more choices to enjoy some good food along with your textbooks. Happy studying to all you students out there!

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