By Chloe Sarrazin

I, for one, have a great deal of trouble studying at home. Yet, in spite of the numerous coffee shops downtown, it can be difficult to know which ones are “study-friendly.” This past week – while consuming more caffeine than is probably considered healthy – I took it upon myself to scout out the best coffee shops to study at in Kingston.

BALZAC’S

Balzac’s was the first destination in my downtown coffee shop exploration. Upon entering, I was immediately struck by just how cute it was. Plants lined the windows, adding some life to the shop, while the color scheme was aesthetically pleasing.

As my eyes roamed for a place to sit, I was overwhelmed by the variety of seating choices: stools by the counter, window seats outlooking the street, their circular tables populating the interior, or their outdoor seating. Four of the tables were designated “non-laptop” seats, though there were plenty of others to choose from.

The coffee shop wasn’t overly busy, so my Chai Tea Latte arrived quickly and, though simple, was very tasty. In the past I’ve ordered the Earl Grey Latte, which I highly recommend to any tea-lover. One thing I like about Balzac’s is their variety of teas, though they also serve coffee, baked goods, and even sandwiches.

Overall, I would consider Balzac’s to be pretty student-friendly. They conveniently have an open wifi (no password required) and the quiet atmosphere allowed me to immerse myself in my work with few distractions. I would definitely study here again (maybe even just for another taste of that Earl Grey latte).

COMMON GROUND (COGRO)

Located on the second floor of the ARC, Common Ground (popularly referred to as “CoGro” among students) is the epitome of student life, advertised as being “for students, by students.”

CoGro is definitely a popular study place, and for good reason. There are dozens of seats (large, small, couches, chairs), though it was difficult for me to find a table because of how busy it was. I decided to order from their Bagel bar, choosing the CoGro secret spread (very yummy) and cucumbers to top my bagel. Other menu items include a variety of cakes, smoothies (with paper straws!), coffees, and some teas (though they lack the same variety as Balzac’s).

Common Grounds was very obviously designed for students. Since it’s on-campus, it’s a convenient place to go in-between classes, and can even access the Queen’s secure wifi. Their windows, as well as the soft music playing in the background, help create a calming atmosphere. That, in addition to being surrounded by other working students, really encouraged me to focus on studying.

In the end, I enjoyed my experience here. If you’re willing to brave the crowd of students, CoGro is more convenient than any off-campus coffee shop. You’ll definitely catch me here between classes in the future!

KINGSTON COFFEEHOUSE

My next destination took me downtown to Kingston Coffeehouse, located across from Springer Market Square.

What I loved most about this place was its aesthetic. Succulents decorate tables, and the brick wall displays a variety of art. Though small, the coffee shop is occupied by white marble tables, a large wood table, benches, and stools. It definitely lacks the same choice of seating as other shops I’d seen, but that didn’t pose a problem, as it was fairly empty. The picture windows and door were also wide open, giving the impression of being outside.

I ended up ordering a simple iced latte, since there wasn’t a lot of variety in the menu. Interestingly enough, all their drinks are served with organic whole milk, though you can also sub that for other kinds of milk (lactose free, soy, etc.) if desired.

As I sat down to work, I quickly realized there wasn’t wifi. When I asked the barista about it, she told me that they were between providers.

The lack of wifi was definitely a drawback, though I managed to work on some textbook work instead. Despite this, I would still recommend Kingston Coffeehouse for its calming atmosphere. And who knows–maybe a short break from the Internet could be a good thing?

CRAVE

Needing a break from studying at home, I made a trip to CRAVE. Much like CoGro, CRAVE is well-known among students, and is a popular study destination, especially during exams. As a result, CRAVE is almost always packed with people. Not to worry though; they have lots of seating to accommodate, both indoors and outdoors.

In comparison to other shops, CRAVE has a wide variety of teas, coffees, and baked goods, though they were definitely on the pricier side. I treated myself to a lemon lavender latte (and, later on in the evening, a pumpkin spice latte) both of which were well-worth the price.

As I sat down to work, I soon discovered why so many students come here. The wifi name and password is clearly written on their chalkboards, laptop outlets are scattered throughout the shop, and their hours extend to 9 PM, allowing me to study for hours. It got a bit loud when people sat down to chat, but otherwise just consisted of other working students.

If you can manage to claim a seat, CRAVE is definitely worth the trip downtown.