With exam season upon us, students might want to get away from campus and study in a more inviting atmosphere. Staff writer Grant Allen ventured to three local coffee shops to review their atmospheres, menus and accessibility.
Gray Squirrel Coffee Company
Gray Squirrel is the farthest from campus of our three coffee shops. Next to One Fish Two Fish and Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, it can be a bit of a trek if you’re coming from campus.
The atmosphere in Gray Squirrel is pretty lively, with most tables making conversation and the baristas talking among themselves. The indie music over the speakers wasn’t too loud, and there were a few people studying scattered throughout.
Huge clean windows looking into the outdoor space and light-colored wood tables and counters brought pleasant natural light, enhancing the lively vibe. There was plenty of seating but not very many outlets, so laptops might not survive a long study session here.
Unfortunately, the snacks department also seemed pretty weak, with only cookies readily available. Gray Squirrel might be a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, but maybe not so much the best place for intense studying.
Perennial is the closest option to campus and is a really cozy spot. There’s a table or two and the barista on the first floor, which is faced by a homely brick wall.
The first floor of this shop seems to be a bit more welcoming of conversation, but walk up to the second floor, and it’s a great spot for studying. It might be hard to find a table on a busy day, but each one is complete with its own outlet. The indie music isn’t quiet, but it’s not too loud, so focusing is still feasible.
This is the only place of the three that requires you to buy something to sit down, but chances are, if you’re in a coffee shop you’ll want some coffee anyway.
Bread & Butter Café
Bread & Butter Café is a bit farther into Carrboro than Perennial, but not quite as far as Gray Squirrel. The soft smooth jazz is the only real noise you’ll hear in Bread & Butter besides someone placing an order.
This café is absolutely quiet, which works for some people, but some may find it a bit intimidating. It’s also somewhat dark despite the large windows with dim lighting, so it makes for a more laid-back atmosphere.
The chairs aren’t very comfortable so don’t expect to be dozing off — there are only outlets for the tables along the wall, and there’s quite a few stuck in the middle with no power source.
True to its name, Bread & Butter Café offers a bit more to eat than the other two cafes, with bread, slices of cake and croissants.
After perusing all three coffee shops, Perennial was my favorite. It was super cozy, close to campus and was a good balance of liveliness and ambiance.
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