The ultimate breakdown of coffee in Amherst

A glimpse into the most popular downtown Amherst coffee shops

Caroline+O%27Connor
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The ultimate breakdown of coffee in Amherst

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Emma Ryan, Collegian Correspondent

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It’s no secret that college students thrive off caffeine. I mean, how else are we supposed to get through those dreaded midterm weeks that slam you with two exams, three papers and a presentation? Luckily for us, caffeine comes in countless different forms, allowing us to truly pick our poison. There are energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster, and now, caffeinated chocolate bars. I’ve even seen people dump a scoop of pre-workout in their mouth just to be able to stay up and study for an exam. Let’s not deny it though: coffee prevails over all other forms of caffeine. There’s nothing like an iced coffee on a hot summer morning — or freezing winter day, if you’re a true New Englander. Or a hot latte to start your day off in the fall. Not only is coffee delicious, but it’s probably the majority of what’s running through the veins of college students. The key to getting you through those weeks is finding the perfect coffee shop to not only satisfy your caffeine addiction but one that also has a productive and welcoming environment where you can get all your work done.

There are many coffee shops around the University of Massachusetts, both on and off campus. On-campus coffee shops will do the trick — and drain your dining dollars – but off campus coffee shops will give you a tasty drink and a new space to work, as well as a calming retreat from campus craziness.

First is The Works. This cute cafe, right across the street from Antonio’s at 48 North Pleasant St., offers an abundance of drinks to keep you buzzing all night long. The substantial lunch menu will keep you fueled up too. Their lattes are nothing too fancy but by no means bad, and the shop as a whole is pretty affordable which is perfect for your average broke, college kid. It’s definitely less than formal, with a worn-in, rustic look and a variety of seating including tables and chairs, booths and comfy armchairs. Along with the indoor seating, there is a covered porch with tables and chairs outside that looks perfect for a crisp fall day. The Works is ideal for either sitting and doing homework or meeting with a friend to catch up. During my visit, there were plenty of people set up with laptops by themselves, but there were also several pairs or groups that were chatting here and there. I enjoyed this atmosphere because it was quiet enough that you could sit and do homework as long as you don’t mind a little white noise. But it’s loud enough that you feel like you can talk without disrupting anyone or having to shout over the sounds of other people talking.

While The Works is more of an informal cafe, Share Roasters, located right next to Bruegger’s Bagels at 178 North Pleasant St., is more modern in nature. It’s a more open area with lots of seating: armchairs, a big dining-room-like table and a multitude of window seats and smaller tables. The atmosphere is decidedly more formal than that of The Works: it’s as if everyone in there has their act together. The coffee here is arguably the best of the downtown shops. Their hot lattes come steaming in a cute mug with a flower drawn out of foam and are deliciously smooth to the taste. Upon arriving, there were definitely more pairs or small groups of people meeting to chat, but as the afternoon dragged on, there were more people filtering in that were sitting quietly doing work or reading. Although there were certainly people sitting and chatting, Share definitely seems like a better atmosphere for studying or working in general.

Somewhere in the middle of The Works and Share Roasters falls Amherst Coffee, located at 28 Amity St. Not as earthy-crunchy as The Works but not as elite as Share Roasters, it’s a true downtown Amherst classic. Like Share Roasters, there’s lots of nice seating and natural light from windows, but it has more of a hustle and bustle feel like The Works can have when it’s busy. Unlike The Works and Share, Amherst Coffee seemed to be the worst place to chat with someone else out of the three. When it gets busy, the shop tends to echo, and the place can turn into a shouting competition. When it settles, however, it would probably be just as good of a place as the other two to do homework. The coffee seems to be another point of critique, it’s possible that it was just busy, but my latte seemed burnt or perhaps too strong.

Sooner or later, we’re all going to be running low on energy and in need of a little caffeine boost. If you love coffee, be sure to stop by one of these shops for a cup, and maybe get a little work done while you’re there. Future you will appreciate it when you can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Emma Ryan is a Collegian contributor can be reached at [email protected]