Posted September 22, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

Best Study Spots

Cooper Point Journal employee, Felix Chrome, studying at Caffe Vita downtown. BLAINE EWIG


They call it “homework,” but for many students, studying and completing coursework can be challenging at home. I can’t seem to concentrate enough to finish work at home. There’s something too relaxed and too distracting about studying at home. It’s very important for every student to understand what environments and what tools allow them to study best. Whether you’re a new student or entering your final quarter, you can always try to find your best situation. Studying some place other than home can be productive, especially if places have reinforcements that reflect some kind of food or coffee substance. Here, I outline places I suggest for great studying, away from your bed.

Batdorf & Bronson Coffeehouse

516 S Capitol (Capitol & 5th)
M-F: 6:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat & Sun: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Offering: fair trade, organic, and direct trade roasts, teas, drip, French press, espresso, cold toddy, fresh pastries, and breakfast burritos.

B&B has been around since 1986 and is a prime place to set up for doing homework. It is welcoming of students. It’s main location is large and open, with plenty of space for either an individual to study or a group to work on a project. There are times the coffeehouse gets busy and a bit noisey, and other times it is quiet and almost desolate. I like to get a cup of drip coffee for just under $2, which comes with a free refill. Getting a French press is a cheap option that allows you to drink any of their available roasts, though if you intend to drink slowly, the second half of the pot gets cold and murky.

Burial Grounds

406 Washington St (4th & Washington)
M-Sat: 10 a.m. – midnight
Sun: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Offering: Specialty espresso creations, tea, drip, bagels, pastries, daily specials.

Though Burial Grounds opens a few hours later than other coffee shops, it has the unique advantage of being the only place open late. BG serves as a great place to study late. People simply refer to BG as the “goth coffee shop,” but don’t make assumptions or let that deter you. Yes, they draw to the darker side of art and creation, but are a bright and encouraging place. Burial Grounds offers a 10% discount to students. Their specialty espresso creation are sure to give you the fuel you need. The Graverobber (hazelnut, 6 shots of ‘spro) is to be taken with extreme caution. The Ice Cold Corpse is less lethal, with only 4 shots of ‘spro and caramel. With less shots (only two), the Rigor Mortis will amp you with sugar (flavored with chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, and marshmallow).

Caffe Vita

124 4th Ave (4th & Washington)
Daily: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Offering: direct trade roasts, espresso, French press, cold brew, fresh pastries, tea.

Seattle-based Caffe Vita has been supplying coffee to the hipster neighborhoods around Seattle and Portland for years. What Vita offers best is simplicity. They offer no-nonsense espresso and brew from direct trade roasts. The cafe is also simple and supplies sufficient room and comfort for studying. Vita is friendly to students and offers a student discount. They open early and are open fairly late, which accommodates students who like to study early and those who like to study later. The 1230 Room is located on the other side of the old, thin wall, so some evenings may be disturbed right before closing.

Cafe Love

205 4th Ave (4th & Washington)
M-Sat: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Offering: Espresso and drip, tea, small selection of breakfast fare, and sandwiches

Cafe Love is small, cozy, and a good place to study. The small cafe lends itself more to individual studying, rather than group work. The relatively early morning opening time and late evening closing time lends itself to ample time for studying. The upstairs nook provides a comfortable place to hide away and work. Cafe Love is known for open mics, poetry nights, and comedy nights, so don’t be afraid when people start filing in.

Olympia Coffee Roasting Company

108 Cherry St (4th & Cherry)
M-Sat: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Offering: full-service espresso options, fresh baked goods, brewed-to-order roasts (pour over), cold toddy, glimpses into the world of coffee roasting.

While all three Olympia Coffee locations are great places to go for coffee, the original downtown roasting location makes for the better place to study. It is small and cozy, simple and inviting. It is best for individualized studying, and you may want to avoid long-term study sessions, as it gets fairly busy and you don’t want to be a table hog. OCR offers some of the best direct trade and small batch roasts and are one of few that provide the true art of a pour over. OCR is a bit pricier and there are no refills, but the quality might just be worth it. The layout also opens up the roasting area for viewing.

King Solomon’s Reef

212 4th Ave (4th & Franklin)
Daily: 8 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Offering: full diner fare (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), espresso, endless drip, cold brew, milkshakes, pie.

The Reef’s extended hours make it the only place that is open any later than midnight. Even if there were other places open as late, the Reef is still the best place to hunker down and study until the wee hours of the morning. The staff are notoriously wonderful. Your cup of coffee is never cold and never empty. Staff prefer students to study in the “card room,” the area to the right of the restaurant. The important thing to keep in mind, is that the Reef is a diner, a place where people usually come in and out quickly. If you’re going to stay and study, don’t be a jerk to your server. Be quiet, patient, and kind, order some coffee and a slice of pie, let your server know you’ll be there for a while, and don’t forget to tip.

McMenamin’s Spar Cafe

114 4th Ave E (4th between Capitol Way & Washington)
Sun-Th: 7 a.m. – midnight
Fri & Sat: 7 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Offerings: Full menu morning and night, coffee, espresso, cocktails, dessert, happy hour deals on food and drink, craft beer, games.

The Spar has been around for a long, long time. As a study space, it’s a bit of a best kept secret. The Spar is open early for breakfast and stays open late for dinner and cocktails. It is a large space with roomy tables for studying, including some hidden in back corners. For added privacy, some of the tables have curtains, so one can really hide away to study. The Spar is welcoming to all ages, encouraging students to study, but after 10 p.m., it becomes strictly 21 and older. The menu can be a bit pricey, but happy hour deals are great. Again, because it’s a restaurant, be kind, be patient, and tip well.


Olympia unfortunately lacks many options for late-night studying. If you don’t want to stay on campus locked away in the library until 1 a.m., Olympia’s bars have much to offer, if you’re older than 21. It seems weird and counter-intuitive, but bars can be a surprisingly productive study space, as long as you (A) aren’t distracted by drunk noise or (B) have headphones. Many bars open in the early afternoon. This is a great time to head into a bar, find a table, and zone out on work. Night time in a bar can go a few ways. Some nights, say on a Monday night, a bar might be fairly empty and calm. On other nights, like Friday, it could get really busy and crazy. If looking to the bar option, it’s best to learn the ways of a particular bar and find the best times for you to work. You don’t have to drink alcohol while working, and some would recommend you don’t (others highly recommend you do). Many bars offer food and even coffee.

Brotherhood Lounge

119 Capitol Way (State & Capitol)
Daily 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Offerings: Full bar, vending machine, outside food allowed, free movies Sunday nights

The BroHo has less to offer in the way of sustenance, but is still one of my favorite places to study. This bar is quirky and fun and can be distracting (pool, shuffleboard, pinball, a photobooth), but due to its ample space and outlets, the BroHo can really be a great place to study. The bar is friendly to students who want to study in their establishment and many a thesis have been written below their giant guitar. Some nights at the BroHo are known to get a bit crazy, but their website is always up-to-date with information about guest DJs and scheduled free movies.

4th Ave Tavern

210 4th Ave (4th between Washington & Franklin)
Daily 11 30 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Offerings: full-service bar, kitchen menu until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday, typical pub fare (fried goodies), pool (for breaks).

The 4th Ave Tavern attracts folks of all kinds, from students to old washed out bikers and hippies. It serves as a surprisingly good place to study. With great food coming out of the kitchen most of the day, you can sustain any extended study session as an individual or a group. It’s dimly lit like any bar, but there is wifi and plenty of room for any kind of work. There is a back area that provides extra privacy. You don’t have to drink alcohol, but don’t eat the nuts.


The Evergreen campus also provides many great places to study. Campus is especially great for group work or for chunks of time between classes and other things you have to do. If a student is struggling to find a good study spot on campus, sometimes just popping into an empty classroom or lecture hall can be beneficial. Big empty classrooms are usually quiet and encourage a study mindset. However, you must be ready to leave if a class or event starts to file in (you can pack up slowly).


The library has almost infinite nooks and crannies for you to find. Below the main floor (where you enter), there are rooms students can check out at the front desk and a few you can snag if they’re open. This level is usually extra quiet, as any area near archives should be. On the main floor of the library, there are many computer consoles and tables for studying pleasures, as well as the language lab, writing center, and QUASR. On the floor above, there are more study rooms for students to check out. Study rooms are a great way to be cut off from distractions and they have white boards (make sure to check out a marker pack, too). There are many tables near the stained glass windows. Along the walls and around the stacks there are individual study coves, some with computers, some without. There are more tables past the bathroom. The Library is great for individual and group work, though it is a quiet space, so group work might be best in a study room.

Study/break room in the CAB

It may be a little obvious, but the study space across from the bookstore is a great place to study individually or with a group. At times it gets a bit crazy, especially when the rest of the CAB gets crazy (like at lunchtime).


Throughout the buildings in SEM II, there are seating areas that offer quite a decent place to study either as an individual or with a group. Many are set up across from chalk boards, which makes group work easier. Many classes spill out into these areas workshops and seminars, so be respectful and move if need be.