Where to Get Your Fix: Cafés Off Campus
Last week I told you all about the places you could order a café-mocha-latte-frappa-whatever-the-hell-you-drink on campus. Which is cool for all of the Penn Staters living on campus, but I didn’t even jump into all of the places that you can go to caffeinate yourselves off campus. So here we go. Downtown coffee shops, listed just for you apartment dwellers, or for the more adventurous dorm residents.
Okay, not my first choice when it comes to getting coffee on campus both because 1) *insert hipster answer about how Starbucks is an unhealthy/unethical/eco-ignorant corporation here* and 2) it’s ALWAYS packed. However, I can’t deny that their salted caramel mocha makes my mouth water involuntarily, and if the line’s always out the door then it’s probably pretty popular, so it makes the list. Hit the one on Garner or the one on West College; either way, bring $5 for a tall (read: small) latte!
Sure, when you think of Dunkin’ the first thing you think of are those freaking delicious, addictive, adorable little Munchkins that you promise you’ll just eat one of before promptly eating the whole box… but actually, Dunkin’ has some pretty bangin’ coffee. The vanilla chai is my favorite. Like Starbucks, the Dunkin’ franchise was smart and plopped stores down on both East College and West College, so wherever you are on campus, a donut and coffee are nearby.
Okay, I want try to contain my enthusiasm here to be fair to all of the other cafés I’m talking about, but the truth is that I’m in love with Irving’s. I’m there several times a week (not nearly as often as Kevin Horne or Zach Berger, but still often) and I have yet to experience poor service there. The bagels are scrumptious, the pancake and bacon latte is better than you’d expect, and the hot apple cider could make even the worst day bearable. Their sandwiches, their iced coffee, their little seating area downstairs… Well, there’s a reason that at pretty much any given moment you can find at least one Onward State writer at Irving’s. I’m begging you, try it some time. It’s right across from the Allen Street stop on the Blue Loop.
My second favorite coffee shop off-campus, Webster’s is a combination book store/café/tiny slice of heaven. Don’t come here if you’re intimidated by the consistent swarm of hipsters, though. Beyond the bookstore (which is huge and awesome, by the way) there’s a record section, and they hold things like poetry readings, book discussions, and open mic nights. There are copious varieties of chai lattes, all kinds of homemade pastries and sandwiches, and a Brown Cow latte that is exclusive to Websters, made from Meyer’s Dairy chocolate milk! Their Honey Spice latte is fantastic, too. You should stop by. It’s quite a lovely place. It’s on East Beaver, next to that little Halloween store (so if you don’t like the place, at least you can knock out your holiday shopping).
The Cheese Shoppe
A little underground place near Calder Square, literally FULL of cheese and coffee beans. It’s amazing that the smell of cheese isn’t what hits you when you walk through the door; instead, you’re smacked in the face with the scent of freshly roasted coffee beans, and before you know it you’re drooling as a perfectly nice barista asks you what you’d like. I got a cup of their snickerdoodle flavored coffee and even without sweetener it had such a distinct flavor. It wasn’t really the kind of place I felt like I could sit and hang out, but if you’re looking to grab a cuppajoe and go, this is your place.
Okay, they’re not open very late, I’ll give you that. Mondays they’re open until 9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 6 p.m., and Sundays only 4:30 p.m., but if you get there before they close one day you will be happily surprised with their selection. Gourmet coffees, tons of teas, and tasty homemade pastries galore. Plus on Monday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. it’s CHESS NIGHT and I know you guys are totally into that, so be there or be square. Sip on one of their tasty lattes while you’re at it. Oh, and try Erica’s Rugelach while you’re there and tell me what it is. I was too scared to order it myself, but I’m very curious.