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The Study Buzz: best brews in town

It’s that time of year again. Western students are packing up their backpacks, pinching pennies to buy all of their textbooks and filling up paper cups at their favorite local coffee shops. When a student’s course load increases, so does their coffee consumption. According to, one of the five biggest money traps that college students fall into is spending a fortune on caffeinated pick-me-ups. Unfortunately, when the stress of a semester hits, the price of liquid fuel can cease to matter.

Local coffee shops give students a rest stop to refill on caffeine. Tevin Harris | Photo Editor
Local coffee shops give students a rest stop to refill on caffeine. Tevin Harris | Photo Editor

“It’s quicker to get coffee on the go for people who are running late to class or meetings,” sophomore Holly Grier said. “I live in the dorms, so when it gets noisy, I can’t concentrate. So I usually go to the coffee shop to study with friends or just to hang out.”

For college students at Western, there are plenty of places to quiet that caffeine craving. There’s Hazel’s on Frederick, Dunkin Donuts on the Belt Highway, Java City on campus, Pony Espresso downtown, and of course, Starbucks Coffee. With all this temptation around town, it’s easy for students to rely on coffee drinks to get through their piles of schoolwork.

“I never drank coffee until I had trouble staying awake for classes because I’d been up all night doing homework, projects and studying,” Grier said.

The average American coffee drinker consumes 3.1 cups of coffee per day. By 2012, there were over 50,000 coffee establishments nationwide. The average price of an espresso-based drink is $2.45, and due to the frustrations that come with the collegiate lifestyle, students will pay the price for some temporary energy, especially if it tastes good.

“A good cup of coffee depends on the entire process,” former Hazel’s barista Holly Rudolph said. “Good coffee is made from great raw beans and it’s roasted and brewed by someone who knows their stuff. Also, freshness is a huge factor. That’s why I like Hazel’s.”

Rudolph worked at Hazel’s for five years, and in her time there, she said that finals week was always a crazy time for the shop. Entire study groups would gather together to study for tests or prepare for speeches or projects.

Downtown lies a diamond in the rough, Pony Espresso, a place that many Western students may have never even heard of. This hole in the wall shop has rich coffee, kind employees and an artistic atmosphere.

“We actually have almost no students come in, which is a bummer because it’s the perfect place for students to hang out. It’s really calm and mellow but it’s the kind of place that you’d typically find somewhere like Kansas City or Lawrence,” Pony Espresso barista Ali Dalsing said. “We have artists showing their work and we’re always looking for more artists to show. And we do events like trivia and poetry nights. We’re always playing music, but we keep the volume at study level.”

If you’re worried about the expense that comes with buying coffee, you should know that a lot of coffee shops in town offer incentive programs. Starbucks offers gold cards to its most loyal customers. After a customer registers a gift card to their email address online, they can store money on the card and use it to purchase drinks and food items at Starbucks. Once they have swiped their activated gift card 30 times, they reach 30 stars. At this point, the customer will receive a gold card in the mail, which allows them to receive even more bonuses in the store. Java City, which is located in the library at Missouri Western, gives out punch cards to its customers. After every tenth punch on the card, a customer receives a free drink of their choice. Pony Espresso offers a similar program, called the frequent coffee card, which allows customers to receive a free eleventh drink. The free drinks aren’t the only perks to hanging out in coffee shops though. Their cozy aesthetic sets the perfect scene for some serious studying.

“I drink coffee absolutely every day,” Rudolph said. “I like to study in coffee shops because they are usually quiet, there is free wi-fi, and they always smell good.

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