For me, when it comes to studying, the environment is key to my progress. The view from my bedroom window consists of the side of a building and a satellite dish, and the lifeless walls of the main library don’t exactly entice me to work. So, this has led me to work my way around our small town, scoping out the best cafes to study in. Now, I’ll recommend the cafes where I enjoyed studying the most. The aim of the list is to be more of an ‘I tried this place so you didn’t have to guide that you would see on Buzzfeed rather than a middle-aged mums’ passive-aggressive review of a popular chain on Facebook. As someone who doesn’t love the main library, and whose most exciting activities of the week last year were going to a café to study, I think I can give some good advice.
Rector’s Café/Main Bar
To no one’s surprise, my first recommendation is Rector’s Café. A student staple, Rector’s has good coffee (at a reasonable price and with milk alternatives), some charging spots, and an all-around good ambiance for studying with friends. In addition to this, the paninis are just what you need when you’re writing essays. However, getting a seat? A luxury. The phrase ‘move your feet, lose your seat’ has never been more applicable than it is in Rectors. And so, enter Main Bar. If you can get past the fact you are studying by the bar you order a Pablo from every Friday night, during the day, it has a good work ambiance. Unlike Rectors, it has a full food menu and bigger tables if you’re with a group. All in all, Main Bar is a sound option if you are looking for the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the main library yet still want a student atmosphere.
We are Zest Café
Zest may not be an obvious option, but it’s extremely underrated. Zest is a social enterprise; it supports people who have had trouble gaining employment. They offer experience and an environment for people to learn new skills. This safe and collective attitude from the staff is reciprocated onto their customers, providing a welcoming setting to work in. It’s not as popular amongst students as Rector’s, and so can provide a very peaceful environment to study in and definitely feels like you are outside the bubble! On top of this, their coffee and loose tea are delicious, and they serve the best bagel combinations in St Andrews. What they lack in charging facilities, they make up for with the fact you can sit outside on South Street and watch the world go by. This factor means that, personally, I find Zest to be the perfect change of scenery. So, if you’re into coffee with a cause, and no time limit on your table, give it a go!
Last but not least, we have my personal favourite, Spoiled Life. If you are looking to study in style, this is your best bet. Treating myself to Spoiled definitely incites me to study. I will be honest – it’s pricey but it’s worth it. Their coffee is my favourite in St Andrews along with their pastries, all sourced from local artisan roasters and bakers in Fife. With their mezzanine breakfast bar area which is perfect for studying, they really have created a superb work environment. They also know how to capture your senses. Whether it be the smell of their diffusers as you walk in or their chillaxed playlist, you won’t want to leave. As a bonus, there is free Wi-Fi and easy access to USB and charger sockets. However, there is a downside – the 45-minute limit on the tables once you’ve bought something, which is not the most student-friendly of policies!
Though these recommendations might not be cost-efficient, they are cool alternatives to the fuss of booking a space at the main library. Let’s face it, part of the DNA of a uni student is to spend money on artisan coffee in cool cups, so it’s only fitting to do a bit of studying to balance it out!