Studying can be difficult at the best of times but if you don’t have the right environment for your needs, it becomes near impossible. Whether the silence of a library or the bustle of a café is what you need, finding that one place you’re most productive is the key to making it through university. I took on the task of hunting for the most study-conducive café in the Canberra region, reviewing a range of cafes and judging them on comfort, noise pollution, location, wifi-access and the ever-important quality of coffee, to find that one key place.
Home game performance usually beats away games, but the same cannot be said for ANU’s cafes. With the closure of Degree, Pajenkas has been over-run with students who never knew it existed until they had to find their pre-lecture coffee fix elsewhere. On the plus side, no matter what food you buy, the servings are enough to sustain you for days which means it’s really cost effective to go with some friends and study over a shared bowl of gravy-soaked chips. If you’re in the mood for coffee though, Pajenkas is not for you. Not only is the coffee cold by the time you collect your food, but it induces the type of body shiver a non-wine drinker gets from a glass of red. Seating is not a selling point, although the covered outdoor seating area is great for soaking in the sun’s warmth with the impending winter chill.
Keeping it in the family, Gods was next on my list. Understandably, cafes are loud; there’s noise from the coffee machines, knock buckets, the dinging of bells when food is ready to make its way to the customer, and the typical white noise of chit chat. Somehow, the conversations in Gods café are closer to black than white noise. Maybe café-goers are particularly extroverted in Gods, or maybe there’s residual noise from the attached building, but I have never been so thankful for noise-cancelling headphones until I stepped foot in this establishment. If you’re looking for a hipster-style café closer to campus than Londsdale Street, Gods is your place – the wallpaper alone would keep you distracted for hours. But, if you need to concentrate, it’s best to avoid looking anywhere inside. Caffeine quality isn’t too bad, but you better not be in a hurry because you’ll be waiting a while to get served, let alone get your coffee. The range of food on offer is a highlight however, with plenty of gluten free options available and decent serving sizes.
Koko Black in the city centre, or Oliver Brown in Gungahlin are decent places to study, with an endless supply of chocolate, minimal amount of noise and comfortable chairs. Taking a deep mouthful of steaming hot chocolate, insulated by the melted layer of marshmallow gives you just the revitalisation you need after an intense study effort. The coffee is decent, but why would you order a plain coffee when you have the option of chocolate-infused coffee? Needless to say, if you’re diabetic or lactose-intolerant, this isn’t your place.
Bringing it a little closer to home, Biginelli’s in the CBE was the next café I hit. For someone as dependent on coffee as I am, Biginelli’s is the place to be. Not only are the baristas really friendly, but they give you cheaper coffee in exchange for thinking sustainably and bringing your own coffee cup. Now that the outdoor area is open for business, you have the option of picnic-style outdoor settings, or indoor tables decorated with all the sugar you could dream of and an IKEA plant for aesthetic. Having spent many consecutive hours in these very tables, I can attest to the productivity of the CBE building. But, if you’re one for quiet I’d avoid the building from 9-5. The smell of freshly brewed coffee is amazing, but the sound of it for hours on end is not music to the ears.
High-5 in Belconnen is a great place to study if you need a break from campus. Located in the quiet end of Westfield shopping centre, the noise from high-trafficked areas is lost by the time it reaches you. The booths give you that American-diner feeling, with Australian quality coffee, and the banana bread isn’t too bad. Westfield’s wifi is capped at 3 hours, but if you stayed for more than 3 hours you’d be buzzing from all the caffeine and you wouldn’t be able to study anyway.
With countless cafes in Canberra, everyone is sure to have their own preference; but after reviewing a few from various locations, I have to say I’ve definitely found my top contenders. Biginelli’s in CBE reigns supreme for campus coffee and atmosphere, but for squeezing in some retail therapy amongst the study, High-5 is the place to be. In preparation for the cold months to come, why not plan your own café-hunt through Canberra’s goldmine of too-hipster-for-their-own-good cafes to find your own study haven?