Salvation in One Cup or Two


Aisa Villanueva

It’s almost finals time again, and you find yourself buried knee-deep in notes, with a siding of random pen marks on your fingers. Reviewing has sucked the life out of you, leaving nothing but eye bags in its path. Drained, all you want to do is curl up under your covers and sleep. But, you need to stay awake and keep studying.

Having found myself in such a situation many times before, I regularly go back to my caffeine-high-inducing addiction to keep me company. Coffee has not left my side ever since I discovered it four years ago. Never has it let me down. In effect, it has made me a self-confessed coffee-holic. It excites me endlessly every chance I get to try out new coffee places. So in writing this article, I jumped at the opportunity to make myself teenager-giddy over the prospect of tasting different coffee variations. Follow me now as I complete my week in coffee.

I had heard countless reviews about the first coffee joint I tried, but more for their trademark dessert than their coffee. Monday, I entered I.V. Drip (905 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista) curious about what they had to offer and eager to see if this famed dessert will fare well with coffee. I ordered my coffee and was surprised to see that I had to pour it myself from a choice of four tastes. Picking French Roast, I sat down and waited for my created version (peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies with cookie dough ice cream) of the sought after “cookiewich.”

The combined flavors with the rush of sweetness of the cookie-ice cream threesome, was too much for my little heart to take. Finally, I understood why people recommended it. The coffee though, was another story. I found it wavering on so-so to average. But if taken with a cookiewich or even those $1 day,old donuts, it tastes somewhat better. Their desserts give them the winning edge. Overall, I would give them a B for effort, for they are more a dessert spot than a coffee place. If you are craving for a caffeine fix and are nursing a sweet tooth, pair them together and give IV Drip a try.

Tuesday, I was allured into Java Jones (6560 Pardall Road, Isla Vista) and found more coffee-driven kindred spirits. It’s always good to trust the taste of the barista, so I had her recommend me drinks. I got two drinks, Caf’Au Lait and Hershey’s Kiss, just for the heck of it. I ordered the smallest sizes and both were around $ 3.25 – $ 3.50, which to my coffee hungry senses were worth the buy as they did not disappoint. For not only did I get the caffeine high that I was craving for, but I also got to do some studying and Facebook checking (they have WiFi), all while I was basking under the warmth of the sun. The helpful staff, the affordable caffeine-bathed drinks, and the study-conducive ambiance, to me all add up to a B+. It’s worth the time to check it out and even have a chat with their accommodating employees.

Wednesday, I had to pull an all-nighter, so I thought of trying out Caje (948 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista). From afar it intrigued me, and I bet that would be one of the reasons that (just like me) people are pulled into this uniquely striking place. It had paintings etched outside its walls and inside hung paintings of various designs. Blinking my eyes away, I had to remind myself that I was after their coffee and not their aesthetics.

Again, I had the barista suggest me a drink, and I gladly ordered their Vanilla Latte, for she stated that encased in its milky-vanilla embrace were high levels of caffeine. Bingo! It was just what I needed. It was also, just as she described it, like an embrace, warm and flowing down my thirsty, dry throat. Moreover, helpful baristas really need to be given an award, because the girl that served me was such a sweetheart as she lightly chatted to me while I was paying. In addition, like Java Jones, this cozy lounge-like coffee spot has WiFi. For all these reasons, I give them an A for an amazing experience.

Thursday, I was just ready to get my class done and over with as I have no Friday classes. I thought of trying one last coffee joint and so I closed my week with Nicoletti’s (at the UCen on Campus). I believe that what will have me coming back to Nicoletti’s is its space and numerous food choices. They are comprised of multiple tables, couches and chairs within its vast area that are favorable to stressed out, industrious students. It also provides a wide variety of coffee choices and has a wide range of food available, be it pasta, salads or sandwiches.

The barista was cordial enough, except she didn’t strike me as one who would go out of her way, like the ones that I met in Java Jones and Caje. She told me that the Mocha Latte was just right up my alley (I asked her what drink was drenched with caffeine), and that was it. Perhaps the two previous places set my expectations too high. Nonetheless, being the true coffee lover that I am, I fully enjoyed her Mocha-laden suggestion that was cheaper (around $2.50) compared to all the others. As such, I would still give Nicoletti’s an A, because their food and coffee choices together with their spacious area outweigh their run of the mill service.

And that, my friends, was my week in coffee. I wish you well and hope that you take time to pass by any of these establishments, as coffee and college make for a necessary pair in this side of town. I raise my cup to you and say, “Cheers! Here’s to caffeine!”