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Where to Get Your Fix: Cafés on Campus

Maybe you’re a caffeine junkie and your morning coffee is required if you’re expected to function. Maybe you’re fancy (read: pretentious) and really feel the need to order that triple-espresso-shot-one-pump-mocha-soy-milk-no-whip every day to prove said fanciness. Or maybe you’re a “fall” person addicted to caramel apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes.

Whatever you are, it’s clear that you just really want to know where you can get your  hot beverage of choice between classes as State College’s very wintery version of autumn abruptly chills you to the bone. Have no fear, Onward State is here to help keep you warm and caffeinated! Here’s a list of places where you can get your fix right here on campus.

A Dining Commons Near You

Findlay in East, The Mix at Pollock, Redifer in South, The West Wing at West, and BlueSpoon in North– they’ve all got some sort of area with a coffee dispenser for your sipping pleasure. And most importantly, the caramel apple cider in Redifer is BANGIN’, and it even comes with a freaking cinnamon stick! Go. Go get one now. Make haste.


Sure, you can go to Starbucks and wait in line for fifteen minutes to pay $6 of your precious meal points/LionCash for a small latte and a shitty, chewy, barely-tastes-like-anything Starbucks bagel. Or you can sneak around the wait and the crappy meal by going to Higher Grounds on the first floor, right in front of Art Alley, and get that same small latte with a delicious Irving’s bagel (An everything, sliced and toasted, with cream cheese. You know you want it!) without wasting half of your morning. I think I just made this choice for you.

The Library

You’re probably there studying your life away anyway, so why not do it with a drink in hand? You’ll need a jolt of energy to stay awake reading until 2 a.m. up in the stacks anyway, lest you should start hallucinating ghosts. So take a study break and pop down to MacKinnon’s Cafe on the ground floor of the Pattee library. They have sandwiches, salads, coffee, hot chocolate, and whatever else you might want to get you through cramming for tomorrow’s exam.

The Visual Arts Building

If you’re stuck on Curtin Road between classes, stop by The Gallery Café in the Visual Arts Building. It’s right behind the Palmer Art Museum, and you can get a cup of joe or a quick lunch before you trudge over to the Forum for your 400 person lecture. You’ll need the caffeine to maintain consciousness despite your professor’s monotone no-pauses-allowed monologues. Plus, The Gallery Café has been named one of the most hipster spots in State College.

The Life Sciences Gateway

You know that glass overpass you see on the Shortlidge Mall? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just there to look awesome. There are actually chairs and chaise lounges up there in the Life Sciences Gateway, on the third floor of the Life Sciences building, where you can rest after snagging a muffin and some tea from the Gateway Café.

The Bank of America Career Services Building

On the first floor of the Career Services building, right near UHS on Bigler Road, you can enjoy Seattle’s Best coffee, sandwiches, salads, and more at the KC Café. Stop by on a clear day to enjoy the sunshine outside on their patio. Because nothing helps you freak out less about your future career than a caramel latte in the sun.

The IST Building

If you’re one of those kids who pretty much sets up camp on the west side of campus every day, then Reese’s Café in the IST Building is the spot for you. Their soups and sandwiches are delish. Since you don’t have time to go home and make yourself any kind of hot meal, stop at Reese’s for that broccoli and cheese chowda you’ve been craving, or get some of that chicken soup for the soul. Whatever. Just consume something that will warm you up.

The Law Building

It’s actually called the Lewis Katz Building, in case you’re curious (which I’m sure you’re not) and it’s home to the students of the Dickinson School of Law, all of whom have earned a few cappuccinos after all of these all-nighters studying for LSATs or whatever law students do. If you’re up north on campus and you’d like a nice view of the arboretum while you recharge, then the tasty SideBar Café is the place for you.

The Kern Building

It gets chilly when you’re taking your ten billionth photo at the Lion Shrine with some org or another to commemorate your Penn State pride. So stop at the Kern Building (if you don’t know where this is, don’t freak out, it’s a graduate building),  right between the Lion Shrine and the Chambers building, and warm up with some hot chocolate from Otto’s Café.

The Business Building

The next time you’re looking for somewhere to study and you’re dreading the mass of people that the library will inevitably be crawling with, make the trek up north to the Blue Chip Bistro in the Business Building and set up camp at one of their cute little tables.

The Mateer Building

I remember on my morale committee last year, someone suggested that we all meet up at Café Laura before we went to our weekly meeting, and one of the girls on our committee confused it with Café 210 West and said she couldn’t because she was under 21. In an effort to not be that silly girl, you should really stop by Café Laura for a (non-alcoholic) beverage sometime between classes. It’s in the Mateer building, on Park Ave.

The Creamery

Of course, the first thing you associate the Creamery with is freaking ICE CREAM, which is not something that you want on a chilly October afternoon. But they have coffee, cappuccino, and hot chocolate to offer, too… and I mean, it’s warm inside the Creamery, so maybe get a bowl of Death By Chocolate while you’re in there, too, and save that hot coffee for the road.

Did we miss any coffee shops on Penn State’s campus? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@OnwardState).

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).


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