3 perfect off-campus study spots to consider as finals approach

By Abigail Balderson

WHEN the library is too full or the seats at Starbucks are all taken or the confines of your dorm are just not working out, the alternative is to find a study spot. 

The thought of going somewhere alone where you’ve never been before can be scary. But sometimes that is exactly what has to be done. 

Luckily here in York, in spots not far from campus, we have many places to go. 

As a college student myself I know that caffeine is one of the main supports throughout finals weeks. 

With that in mind I sought out local cafes and coffee shops to find which places were the best for studying,

So here are three of the best cafes/coffee shops I found and all of their ratings to help your find which one is best suited for your study needs:

1, Prince Street Cafe, 2 W. Market St.

This cafe is local and is in downtown York. It’s a 5-minute drive from main campus or a 20-minute walk.

However, if you are driving there aren’t any parking areas attached to the building. There are a few parking garages or lots that are only a block or two away.

Location: 7.5/10

The menu here is fantastic. They serve breakfast all day and have a lunch & dinner menu. There is a pastry case as well at the front counter.

A case of assorted pastries and bottled beverages. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Abby Stein, a barista at Prince Street Cafe, recommends the baked oatmeal and the breakfast sandwiches. 

She also noted how they have lots of vegetarian options and substitutes available.

Avocado toast, egg sandwich, and strawberry lemonade. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

The prices were a little bit on the expensive side. I got an egg sandwich with bacon and an order of avocado toast for $15, which isn’t bad, but other places are cheaper.

Food Options: 9/10

The drink menu is also very well rounded. They have hot/iced coffees of all kinds, loose leaf teas, and smoothies as well.

The drinks are cheaper than they are at popular places like Starbucks. Most of the drinks only cost between $3 and $4. And select drinks purchased “for here” are free refills. 

I ordered a hot chai tea latte and strawberry lemonade. They were both very good. The latte took a few extra minutes to come out than everything else.

Hot chai tea latte. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Drink Options: 8/10

The seating options were very surprising. There were many places to choose from.

Seating options on the right side of the cafe. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

There were stools along the counter, high tables and chairs, low tables and chairs, a booth section, and a long table with many available chairs. 

Seating Options: 10/10

During my time there several patrons were using laptops and seemed to be doing some form of work or other. 

Others were having conversations, having a pleasant time. There was no music on so the noise of those talking carried throughout the place.

If studying I would use headphones/earbuds, which a few people were doing. 

Prince Street Cafe is located at 2 W. Market St., York. The original one opened in Lancaster in 2006. Its address is 15 N. Prince St.

The place itself is very aesthetically pleasing, with high ceilings, nice lighting, lots of greenery, and brightly colored paint. 

Something about the atmosphere here is of slightly higher class. I would not necessarily feel comfortable studying here in less than casual clothes, like a sweatshirt and sweatpants. 

It would be a great place to take pictures for Instagram. 

Study Atmosphere: 6/10

Google Reviews: 4.6 stars

The cafe is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The consistent hours are great and easy to keep straight. 

Stein said that the busiest time is on the weekends, and sometimes Fridays, from 10am-1pm.

The staff was very friendly and the wait for the food was only 5 to 7 minutes. 

If you’re looking for a pretty place to get tasty breakfast or lunch while you study, the Prince Street Cafe would be a great place to go. 

Overall  Experience: 8.5/10

2, Belmont Bean Co., 18 S. Belmont St.

The Belmont Bean Co. is a local coffee shop and is a 10-minute drive from main campus.

Conveniently there is a small parking lot next to the building and it is free. 

Location: 7.5/10

There isn’t a full food menu available; the beverage menu is the main option. 

Samantha Coppage, a key holder at Belmont Bean Co., mentioned the company’s plan to expand its menu in the future.

For now it offers options of baked goods including some from a locally owned bakery, Buttercream Dream Bakery. 

A case of baked goods, muffins, cake pops, and cookies. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Food Options: 4/10

The drink menu is a unique component to this cozy coffee shop. It is written on a chalkboard with lots of fun colors and illustrations. 

Chalkboard drink menu. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Belmont Bean Co. offers a wide selection of beverages, espresso drinks, coffee hot/iced, cold brew, smoothies, teas iced/hot, hot chocolate, and more. 

There is also a large selection of flavors to choose from as well. 

Chalkboard flavor menu. Photo by Abigail Balderson

One unique thing that they offer is coffee flights.

Flights are commonly seen in restaurants and breweries for a tasting of their beers and/or ciders. 

Here they have you fill out the flight paper slip, marking down which drink you’d like to try as well as any extras.

Flight drink selection form. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

I got a brown sugar cold brew with cold foam and a hot chai tea latte to go. Together it came to about $12; it was what I was expecting for the drinks I got. 

Cold brew and hot chai tea latte in to go cups. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Drink Options: 9.5/10

The seating options were more limited here, there were only four tables, two couches, and bar-like seating along the front window. 

The seating options in Belmont Bean Co.. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

All of the furniture was donated from the community. 

Coppage said there are also plans in place to expand the coffee shop to create more space for patrons to sit. Belmont Bean Co. has been open for only three years, so it is still growing.

Seating Options: 6/10

This coffee shop is full of charm and extremely welcoming. The staff were all incredibly friendly and quite funny. 

The shop itself is very cozy, warm, and inviting. Everyone who came in had a smile on their face. 

There wasn’t any music playing but it wasn’t loud even with conversations taking place. Personally I would still probably use headphones/earbuds but it wouldn’t be necessary. 

Free Wi-Fi is available, with the password posted upfront. 

This place is very relaxed and doesn’t feel judgmental whatsoever. They even have a space for locally made goods for sale, with board games at the bottom for customers to use. 

Shelf with locally owned business goods, Belmont Bean Co. merchandise, decorations, and games underneath. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

It would be a great place to celebrate and hangout with friends once exams are over.

Study Atmosphere: 8/10

Google Reviews: 4.9 stars

Belmont Bean Co. is open at 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 

These hours allow for longer study sessions and have more flexibility. 

They are the busiest on the weekends; the first morning rush is typically at 9 am and the second is at 10:30 am, according to Coppage. 

All of the staff were outgoing and friendly. They all held genuine conversation with me and other customers. 

They had great energy and were more than willing to explain anything I had questions about. 

Belmont Bean Co. would be a great place to study if you’re looking for a comfortable space with friendly faces and great caffeinated drinks. 

Overall Experience: 9.5/10

3, Joe Muggs Coffee (Books-A-Million), 3000 Whiteford Road

Joe Muggs Coffee is a coffee shop located inside of Books-A-Million (a.k.a BAM). The closest BAM is a 15-minute drive from main campus. 

Parking is available right in front of the store. There are many spots available.

Location: 7/10

There isn’t a full food menu available at this location. They do offer options like instant oatmeal cups, bagels, and cookies.

Glass cases of bagels and cookies. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

They also have small individually packaged items such as chocolates, protein bars, and candies. 

Chocolates and other packaged goods on the front counter. Photo by Abigail Balderson

Food Options: 6.5/10

The drink options were surprisingly diverse. They offer espresso drinks hot/iced, coffee hot/iced, seasonal flavors, frappes, non-caffeinated options such as hot chocolate, hot apple cider, smoothies, and more. 

Menu posted on the wall. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

They also have displayed canned/bottled beverages that they offer as well. Such as energy drinks, liquid death (lime sparkling water), and cold brew. 

Canned/bottled beverages available for purchase. Photo by Abigail Balderson

Emily, a barista at Joe Muggs Coffee, said that the seasonal frappes are the most popular drink. 

The prices were good; it was only about $5 for an iced oat milk chai tea latte. And it tasted great. It was gone quickly.

Drink Options: 8/10

The seating options were great, there are lots of options and lots of availability. 

Seating options inside of Books-A-Million. Photo taken by Abigail Balderson

Primarily there were low seating tables of different sizes. There was a long hightop with several stools and a bar top along the windows. 

Seating Options: 9.5/10

There was light music playing throughout the entire store but people were quiet for the most part. No one was talking in the seating area.

It was very calm and everyone seemed focused. There’s also something about a bookstore that just feels studious, it was very motivating. 

You wouldn’t need headphones/earbuds unless you wanted them. There were little to no distractions. 

However, Emily did mention that after school hours it can get louder in the store because people will bring in their children, but that is only occasionally.

Study Atmosphere: 9/10

Google Reviews: 4.2 stars

Books-A-Million is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday. For the winter season, Joe Muggs Coffee will adopt the same hours. Typically the coffee shop would close at 6 p.m. 

The staff was very friendly and casual. The place as a whole was very laid-back and quiet. 

If you’re looking to study in a quiet and studious place with lots of caffeine options surrounded by books, Joe Muggs Coffee would be a great fit!

Overall Experience: 9/10

Any of these locations would serve as a great place to get some work done, it all comes down to what you’re looking for. 

Hopefully this helps you from feeling lost the next time you need that perfect space. 

Written by Abigail Balderson, a sophomore majoring in Literary and Textual Studies. 

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