The Locker Café comes highly recommendedSophie Weinmann

I like to think that after two and half terms of trying out every café in walking distance of college, I’ve become a bit of an expert in the culture of café studying. The days of forgetting to charge my laptop before I leave or sitting down only to realise that I left my headphones at home are long gone. But no matter how well prepared your bag is for a day at the likes of Fitzbillies or Hot Numbers, some cafés are simply easier to be productive in than others. So what makes a café the ideal study spot? And which Cambridge café comes out on top?

There’s a reason you will find at least one picture of the classic blue cups and artisan avocado toast in every student’s Instagram feed

Fitzbillies (Trumpington Street)
Aside from being insanely Instagram-worthy, Fitzbillies’ main advantage is its central location and high-quality coffee. There’s a reason you will find at least one picture of the classic blue cups and artisan avocado toast in every student’s Instagram feed. However, despite its aesthetic value, I have sworn off Fitzbillies as a study spot. Not only is it always crowded and full of tourists chatting away, but its lack of power outlets, small tables, soaring prices (£3.50 for an oat milk latte) and rather slow WiFi make it fundamentally unsuitable for a day of work.

Hot Numbers (Trumpington Street)
Amazing coffee, good lighting and fast WiFi – Hot Numbers definitely has ideal study spot potential. Unfortunately, quite a few people have caught on to that. The Trumpington Street branch is usually packed and getting one of the coveted seats next to a power outlet is harder than most of the work you came to get done. Since tables are so high in demand, you will also definitely get more than one angry look if you stay for too long, and could also be stuck at a round side table that barely holds your laptop and coffee. Hot Numbers does however make for a great Instagram location, with plants, amazing latte art and a lot of natural lighting.

Espresso Library
Espresso Library is one of my more recent discoveries, although I initially only committed to the trek through Parker’s Piece for Sunday brunch. While getting there certainly requires more effort than rolling out of bed and into the college library, the walk is definitely worth it – and with Espresso Library serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and snacks you can stay the entire day! The decently sized tables are usually covered in MacBooks, notepads and green smoothies, so you’ll immediately get into a work mind-set. Also, the location and slightly older working-age clientele are a good way to get out of the university bubble for a bit.

Dishy decor at Espresso LibrarySophie Weinmann

The Locker Café
A bit tucked away, the Locker Café is the ideal mix of chill hangout space and motivating work environment. The staff are super friendly and have on more than one occasion given me an extra table to fit all of my notes. My favourite part is the outdoor seating that lets you soak up some sun while working – and the student discount that makes it acceptable to order one latte after another. A big plus is definitely the friendly vibe in general – in just one morning we received both helpful Exam Term tips (“Remember the big three: eat, sleep and drink”) and some heartfelt fashion compliments (“If this is what you revise in, what do you wear on a night out?”) from fellow customers.

Waterstones Café
Despite its popularity among student journalists and thesps, the Waterstones café wasn’t on my radar before the Easter break. Its affordable drinks, as well as the abundance of huge tables, power outlets and very friendly staff make it the ideal spot to study – plus it’s right in the centre of town. While it’s usually rather busy, most people there will be working as well so noise isn’t a huge issue. And my favourite part is: when you need a break you can just wander around the bookshelves and explore.

Spread yourself out in the Waterstones caféSophie Weinmann

Studying in cafés definitely isn’t without its problems – whether it’s distractions in the form of conversations at a neighbouring table that are far more interesting than whatever book you’re trying to read or the hours you can spend on taking, editing and posting the perfect shot of your work setup. But for me, leaving college and spending money on a coffee motivates me to actually stay in one place and get work done, instead of leaving the library for a snack run or to get a really important book from my room every 30 minutes. Or as my friend recently eloquently expressed: “I go to Fitzbillies to work because I’m less likely to fall asleep there.”

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