Sometimes it’s good to get out of the library and confront the real world, albeit still in the heart of the Oxford ‘bubble’. Oxford celebrates centuries of history; not least it is reasonably easy to find a unique coffee shop tucked away, with pleasant hustle and bustle, and beautifully worn-out leather armchairs. Café-studying is the perfect opportunity to get out into the city and remind yourself of the world beyond the ‘plodge.’ It is sociable, certainly more aromatically pleasing than the archaic college libraries, and potentially lip-smacking, too. If you need a change from familiar college faces, or if you’re tired of having to down your coffee outside your library gates, why not mix up your study schedule? Below are five of my all-time favourite hangout places to get an injection of caffeine whilst finishing off those all-essential essays:
1. Turl Street Kitchen
Turl St, Oxford OX1 3DH
(Next to Jesus, but TSK is rather famous!)
Photograph by Darren Ciolli-Leach
The Turl Street Kitchen really is a novel approach to the student-café hybrid, and we love it. The vibrant atmosphere, the interior cosiness, and the rustic living room feel make it the social hotspot for the student community. Especially in the evenings, where the lighting primarily consists of flickering candlelights, it makes for a wonderfully romantic setting. What’s more, all profits go to its sister charity, the Oxford Hub. TSK food and drink is fabulous: the menu changes daily, and they’re open all day, serving everything from a full English breakfast to a pint of your favourite local brew. It opens everyday at 8am, and closes far later than any other café in town (midnight or 1am depending on day of the week). Above all, one of the greatest things about TSK is their DIY toast system: with an ample spread selection so you can tailor your toast to your every desire. So have a cup of tea, a slice of toast, and get your laptop out.
2. The Organic Deli Café
24 Friars Entry, Oxford OX1 2DB
(Close to Beaumont Street)
Offering a broad range of scrumptious food, from freshly made gourmet brunches to exotic mango chai lattes, this café is an off-the-beaten-track gem. With wide wooden tables, and two floors of seating, there’s plenty of space to spread out and utilise those necessary, if excessive, exam stationery purchases. The food and drink here is on the pricy side, but, as the name suggests, it’s healthy stuff, so a worthwhile spend. With that in mind, we thought it would be an ideal location to make sure your bodies are well nourished.
3. Pret A Manger
26 – 27 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3EY
Photograph by Iker Merodio
This Oxford branch is nothing like what you have previously experienced in other cities. The ambience is humble, with splashes of Victorian elegance. Really – there are old timber beams, uneven flooring and skewwhiff walls. It feels almost like the converted guestroom of your grandmother’s house. There’s also lots of room, tables, and electricity sockets, which all in all makes it extremely student-friendly. Pret is especially good for sandwiches and healthy salads, with recent rogue additions to their menu such as Macaroni and Cheese. Avant-garde. The coffee is decent for a high-street branded coffee shop, too. Why not revisit this faithful staple of any decent city?
4. Java & Co.
35 New Inn Hall Street Oxford OX1 2DH
(Near St Peter’s College)
Photograph by Royd Tauro
This is arguably the most student-friendly café in Oxford. With a 10% student discount and a loyalty card, it is certainly one of the best value places in town. On top, there is a VIP club membership for the addicts amongst you, where every week, they offer a selection of bakes at a discounted rate. On your birthday, you will even get a complementary slice of cake, too! The café is spacious and relaxed, and the friendly team of staff recognise familiar customers, so you can be sure to receive personalised service. You’ll find yourself surrounded by a fascinating mix of people: I’ve encountered a ‘Warhammer’ club that took over half of the top floor, a Latin lesson and even a group of Brownies discussing their latest cookie selling plan. The best things about Java? It’s central, plays Simon and Garfunkel and has a fine selection of different hot chocolate on offer. Orange hot chocolate? Yes. That is a thing; it exists, and it is amazing.
5. The Nosebag
6-8 St. Michaels Street, Oxford, OX1 2DU
(Just off Cornmarket Street)
Photograph by CNorth2
Immerse yourself in one of Oxford’s oldest independent bistros, and be part of the generations of students throughout the decades gazing out over St. Michael’s Street as they struggled in, no doubt, very similar ways with essay crises, collections, prelims, and finals. The Nosebag offers everything from coffee and cake to lasagne, to wine and beer. It really caters for every taste and possible craving. The tables are large and there’s a fine selection of classical tunes to soothe weary brains. It provides ample people-watching opportunities, both within this surprisingly busy café, and over the street below. Tucked away up above the bustle of university life, you can study to your heart’s content – but don’t leave without sampling the cakes, because they really are exceptional.
Well, there you have it: my top five recommendations of coffee-scented places to get a caffeine-boost whilst meeting that impending deadline. These days, it’s so common to find an eatery with Wifi access; you may even choose a location so close to university buildings you wind up with eduroam. The café culture is ever-expanding, and there’s definitely something out there for everyone now, so grab a cup of coffee, settle down on that comfy armchair, and watch the world go by in the hub of Oxford.
Featured Photograph by Nick Goulden