We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt stuck in limbo, staring blearily out of a musky and dank library with a foggy headspace we can’t shake off. If you’re feeling unproductive, restless, and in search of a change of pace, you’ve come to the right place. Although Columbia is home to many libraries with various personalities, it’s totally OK to not want to spend the majority of your waking hours in one of them. Here’s a gentle reminder that there are plenty of other accessible options (within walking distance) around Morningside Heights for you to hunker down and power through all that work that’s been piling up.
First, let’s bring you to Barnard’s campus!
Location: First floor of the Milstein Center, next to Futter Field (Barnard’s main lawn), and a brisk 20-second walk from the main gates.
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to midnight; Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: want to work collaboratively while being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of students going about their day.
Seating: The seating area covers the entirety of the first floor. There are a couple of tables and armchairs on each side of the Milstein glass doors toward the front of the building, and high benches on the sides. There are more armchairs and tables behind the stairs to the Barnard library. Although plentiful, it usually fills up pretty quickly on weekdays and Sundays, seeing as it is the go-to coffee and snack place on Barnard’s campus.
Noise level: Moderately loud. The Barnard library is structured in such a way that it gets quieter as you go up the floors, so it is not uncommon for collaborative work and small talk to take place at Peet’s. It is also a part of the main lobby of the Milstein Center.
Lighting: Bright! The floor-to-ceiling glass windows let in beams of sunlight.
Food: A variety of drinks including coffee, tea, bottled water, and juice. Salads and pastries are also for sale. Beware: The line for a coffee fix gets dangerously long between classes and in the afternoons, so be prepared to wait a while.
Location: First floor of the Diana Center, to the north of Futter Field. A stone’s throw away from its neighbor, the Milstein Center.
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: like to work in a less crowded environment on campus.
Seating: Decent. Consists of mostly individual armchairs and a few tables, with four longer couches for group collaborative work or socializing. There is a row of tables along the glass windows facing Broadway.
Noise level: Moderate. Liz’s Place has the usual chatter of a coffee shop, and music is sometimes played on the radio.
Lighting: Liz’s gets a little less sunlight that Peet’s, but is still relatively bright since two of its walls are floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Food: The usual coffee and tea, plus bottled water and seltzer. In addition to pastries, pre-packaged chips and sushi can also be found at Liz’s.
Now, off to Columbia we go!
Joe Coffee (NoCo)
Location: The Northwest Corner Building (NoCo). One floor above the street level entrance.
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m..
This is the coffee shop for you if you: are your best self under the sun (indoors, and with AC) and enjoy the murmurs (and occasional laughter) of coffee shop small talk.
Seating: Plentiful. There are upwards of 10 tables (with four chairs around each one). It is a hot spot on campus and generally busy. Seats get claimed pretty quickly, especially around midday.
Noise level: Moderately loud. Besides hardworking college students (such as yourself), people tend to flock to NoCo for coffee dates and to chat over a bagel and coffee.
Lighting: A major amount of natural sunlight! The high ceiling, coupled with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, provides an unbelievable amount of sunlight on a clear day.
Food: A selection of coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries.
Location: Basement of Avery, by Schermerhorn and Saint Paul’s Chapel. Turn left upon entering the main doors and you will find yourself in the clean and lively underground coffee shop.
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: work best among gentle murmurs and appreciate the comforting feeling of being tucked away underground in a modern, well-lit room.
Seating: Ample. There is a mixture of long couches, tables, and chairs littered across the basement.
Noise levels: Low to moderate. There is a constant gentle hum of dialogue from collaborative work and general chatter.
Lighting: A surprising amount of natural light from the skylight at the end of the basement. Its white walls and modern decor give off a clean and collected vibe.
Food: A selection of coffee, tea, juice, sandwiches, and pastries. There’s also a salad bar!
Blue Java (Engineering/Mudd)
Location: First floor of the Engineering School’s Mudd Building.
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: find motivation in working among peers in a space that is a mixture of a library and a dining hall.
Seating: Ample. Plenty of rows of tables and chairs occupy the spacious room, with couches and more casual lounging space near the windows.
Noise level: Low to moderate. There is a constant gentle hum of dialogue from collaborative work and general chatter.
Lighting: An adequate amount of natural light and plenty of indoor lighting.
Food: A selection of coffee, tea, juice, sandwiches, pastries, and soup.
Uris Hall/Blue Java
Location: Uris Hall
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: like working in a casual and bustling space.
Seating: Ample. The tables across the dining hall are shared between customers of Blue Java and Uris Dining. There are a couple of small tables outside on the terrace as well.
Noise level: Moderate to loud. There is a constant flow of dialogue and the music playing on the radio.
Lighting: Your usual dining hall lighting. The seating area outdoors is a good place to relax in the sun (provided that the sun is out!).
Food: A selection of coffee, tea, juice, sandwiches, and pastries. The dining portion of Uris has meals to stay or to go.
Joe Coffee (Journalism)
Location: First floor of Graduate School of Journalism/Pulitzer Hall.
Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: enjoy coffee shop chatter and a clean, bright atmosphere.
Seating: A bunch of tables nicely spaced out.
Noise level: Moderate to loud. There is a constant flow of dialogue and baristas calling out orders.
Lighting: A decent amount of natural light from the floor-to-ceiling window at the entrance. Generally brightly lit.
Food: A selection of coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries.
And finally, let’s venture off campus and into the wilderness of Morningside Heights.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
Location: On the corner of West 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, opposite St. John’s Cathedral.
Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 - p.m.; Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sunday: 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: can work efficiently in a very cozy and busy environment with the backdrop of friendly conversational dialogue and coffee machines (and with no WiFi!).
Seating: A bit cramped. Seeing as the pastry shop is not a large venue, there is little room for movement between the tightly packed tables and chairs. The tables themselves can hold a laptop and a coffee mug at best, so if you are planning to spread some papers out and write in a notebook, you will need two tables to yourself.
Noise levels: Moderately loud. There is a constant stream of dialogue seeing as people from all around come to enjoy the appetizing cakes and pastries the shop has to offer.
Lighting: Very dim lighting indoors where most of the seats are located. There are warm, yellow wall lamps dispersed across the walls of the interior, but it gets quite dark in the middle of the room, especially if you’re reading from a piece of paper. There are three to four tables outside of the shop by the door where natural sunlight is plentiful, but they, more often than not, are occupied.
Food: A mouthwatering variety of pastries and specialty coffee.
Location: On the corner of Seminary Row (West 122nd Street) and Amsterdam Avenue.
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday: 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: thrive in warm and relaxed environments that transport you away from the (occasionally) stressful bubble of Columbia.
Seating: Very cozy. Although the shop itself is quite spacious, it is full of plush couches and tables of various arrangements. There is plentiful seating indoors and groups of tables outside on the sidewalk.
Noise level: Loud. Besides being a popular study destination for undergraduate and graduate students, Max Caffe is also a favorite of families in MoHi. During midday it gets crowded and sound levels spike.
Lighting: Moderately lit indoors.
Food: Breakfast food, dessert, and drinks.
Broadway Au Lait
Location: West 121st Street and Broadway, opposite the Union Theological Seminary.
Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is the coffee shop for you if you: prefer quiet, unassuming, chill spaces.
Seating: A deli-style coffee shop with around 10 tables with two chairs each. Quite spacious when compared with the other busier and more populated coffee shops.
Noise level: Low. Seeing as it is more of a stretch away from campus, it is generally not overrun by Columbia students.
Lighting: Moderately lit indoors. Wide window panes facing Broadway lets in an ample amount of sunlight.
Food: A wide range of pre-made pastries and snacks, including chips and pretzel sticks, and a comprehensive selection of tea and coffee. Salads and sandwiches are made-to-order.
There you have it! Hopefully you now have a better idea of where to go for your next study session.