Best Cafes for Studying On and Off Campus


Alexandra Vassilev

Staff Writer

In the midst of exam season, many students share a lack of motivation; the warmth of spring quarter serves as a constant reminder of the near yet distant summer just around the corner. Lacking this discipline to continue my studies in the library or my dorm room, I reasoned that a change in scenery may be beneficial.

Before studying, I would always grab a coffee first. I decided to use my coffee runs as an opportunity to offer insight on three of the most popular cafes for studying both on and off campus.

1. The Arbor

The Arbor, your classic college cafe that you’ve probably stopped by at least once during your time at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) for an  energy drink or study snacks. My coffee order is basic — a large medium roast with oat milk — but it never fails me for a long study session. Oat milk seems to be what most students order with their coffee, so of course I hopped on the bandwagon. The staff is always friendly and their drinks never disappoint.

Their cafe also has a Spring Special menu, which is full of fun new drinks to try! The specials consist of Honey Lavender Matcha, Peach Razz Lemonade, and a Coconut Caramel Latte. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but they have a large variety of drinks to choose from for anyone looking for a refreshing afternoon treat.

The Arbor has seating options outside with several tables that are especially popular in the early to late afternoons between classes. Try to get there earlier if you want to secure a table with an umbrella for those extra sunny days. However, the weekends typically aren’t as busy, so you might consider going later if you’re interested in a quieter but open study spot.

If you’re someone who loves to work outdoors and isn’t looking to venture anywhere outside of campus, the Arbor is your spot to study. 

2. KOZY Coffee

Having recently opened last spring, KOZY is the ideal place for students searching for a cozy study aesthetic (see what I did there?). As a morning person, I tried to get there as early as possible. KOZY opens early for all you morning people, from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the week.

When entering around 8 a.m., there were already students seated at the tables with open laptops and coffee cups. I went for the same coffee order I usually go with and secured a table right by the window. 

The aesthetic of KOZY felt completely different from that of the Arbor. It’s clear that they had a color scheme in mind for their design; the interior was a bit darker with mostly black tile colors lining the walls, yet it didn’t make the area feel dull or dim by any means. With white color accents and several house plants assorted on the shelves, everything about their aesthetic was very pleasing to the eye, and it made for a great study environment.

The seating was especially comfortable too. Both their indoor seating area and outdoor patio features a combination of chairs and soft couches where I watched many groups of friends catching up for a morning coffee run, homework revisions, or indulging in some daily gossip (which I definitely didn’t listen in on). 

KOZY Coffee. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Vassilev.

One thing I will caution is how crowded and occasionally noisy it is. Somewhere after 10 a.m., the cafe began filling up with large numbers of students, tourists, and families, creating a large line. It’s unfortunate that the seating options are limited. While KOZY has managed to create such an inviting atmosphere, it might be a bit too small to accommodate the many visitors and residents of Isla Vista (I.V.). Other than this minor setback, I would definitely recommend KOZY to any UCSB student for an overall productive study space.

3. Cajé Coffee Roasters

Cajé’s choice of interior design, like KOZY, is also quite interesting. Upon entering, the outside of Cajé displays an array of colors with paintings of ocean waves and greenery. The red booth tables inside create the feel of a small-town breakfast diner with a more laid-back setting. The outside patio is beautifully arranged as well; vibrant flowers line up on the sides of the entrance and tables — a perfect depiction of the relaxed Santa Barbara lifestyle.

Though I didn’t get the chance to catch a glimpse of the full menu, they definitely have more dining options to choose from for both breakfast and lunch. They offer açaí bowls, an assortment of bagel options, smoothies, and — my personal favorite — the coffee bar menu.

Since I got there early in the morning, I wasn’t too hungry yet and opted for coffee (yes, the same coffee order). They didn’t have a medium roast, but they offered two lighter roasts: Brazilian and Columbian. I ordered the Columbian roast with oat milk, which had just the right strength to give me the energy boost I needed for my studies. 

I liked that they provided charging outlets under the booth seats. Similar to KOZY, Cajé seemed to be another common study place for I.V. residents to frequent. I managed to finish a lot of my economics homework here. The social but studious atmosphere makes Cajé an ideal place for any college student searching for a new place to study. 

Like KOZY, it did get quite loud at times. Though both off-campus cafes have great features to offer, being a few of the only cafes in the I.V. area, students are left with little options when it comes to finding the ideal study area outside of the library or their dorm room. Hopefully in the near future, more coffee shops like Cajé and KOZY will open up.

For now, check out any (or all) of these cafes as one of them is sure to meet all your study needs for upcoming midterms and finals!


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