12 Days of Freshers

Review: The Best Coffee on Campus

Nina Shasha

On the fourth day of freshers, Impact gave to me… all the best spots on campus you can see.

As an English student, my degree is essentially reading and drinking coffee. When I am not in one of my few contact hours, I become a nomad on campus with plenty of time to drown my stress in caffeine. I think that gives me some authority on where to find the best coffee on campus. [Apologies in advance for my obsession with stamp cards, I like freebies].

Portland Coffee: 

Our first contender is Portland Coffee. It is student run, which I’m a supporter of, and has a great selection. The baristas always put in the effort to add some nice coffee art, which is always appreciated, and they offer stamp cards, which is nice for the regulars who want their tenth coffee free. I find that their main advantage is their seating and overall “vibe”; with its comfy booths and brick walls, it makes for a nice group hangout. The only downside to this is that it attracts a lot of traffic, meaning that it is often difficult to find a table, especially around lunch.

Grumpy Mule:

Next up is Grumpy Mule, which can be found in the Trent building’s café and around the corner of Henderson’s in the Portland Building. Though it lacks Portland Coffee’s aesthetic and fancier coffee styles, it is a reliable choice with the standard options with a similar quality. They have a nice seating area connected with Henderson’s, offering natural light and plenty of comfortable couches for a reading nook or study group. Another plus is the stamp card, which can be used at both locations, ideal for English students. Overall, a solid choice for regular coffee drinkers.

They are undoubtedly the best for consistency in quality and energy


Of course, we cannot ignore the prominence of Starbucks on campus. They can be found in most buildings on campus, though I like the Hallward library’s one best for its seating area and proximity to books. You can also get their cold brews in Spar as part of a meal deal, which is optimal for those looking for a cost-efficient lunch. They have great hours, staying open until around 8pm, which is ideal for late nights at the library, and their baristas offer insightful conversation about how they are not Starbucks, but a ‘Starbucks Franchise’. Unfortunately, this does mean no gift or stamp cards, so no loophole to free coffee. Nevertheless, I find that they are undoubtedly the best for consistency in quality and energy, their caffeine having a stronger effect than most others.

Ignoring the fact that the money goes back into a multi-billion-dollar corporation, I would give them 4.5 stars.

The Pavilion:  

The Pavilion is tucked away in the bottom right of campus in Lakeside Arts. If you like a nice view of the lake and are into the art scene, then this is for you. The quality of their coffee is good, and they offer a nice view of the lake. However, their location does sacrifice efficiency, as unless you are headed to lectures via Dunkirk or Lenton, they are a bit out of the way. Additionally, it is a little cramped inside and not the best for long stays.

Building cafes:  

By building cafes, I am referring to those found in Coates or Clive Granger. They offer the essentials and are good when in a rush to a lecture or on a quick break. However, compared to the others, they are not best for quality and always seem to be closed when I need them, particularly for the 5pm lectures.

It’s cheap and cheerful, – and by that, I mean free and bad – but it’s still coffee


Last but not least, the freebies. Any self-respecting coffee-junky will know where to find these. I’m talking common rooms, societies’ offices, halls (for those living in catered halls) … anywhere that offers free caffeine. It’s cheap and cheerful, – and by that, I mean free and bad – but it’s still coffee. It’s not always reliable, as the local coffee connoisseurs tend to latch on until it runs out, but it’s there. It is also a solid incentive to join a society with an office space, as some have free tea and coffee (shout out to Impact for enabling my addiction!). My top tip is to get a good reusable cup and carry it around at all times for when you find these spots.

Overall, not great in quality or energy, but who needs standards?

Nina Shasha

Featured image courtesy of WordRidden via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In article images courtesy of @portland_coffee_co and @starbucksnottsstation on Instagram. No changes made to these images.

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