Exam Survival Guide: How To Stay Caffeinated In Memphis
Ed. Note: After some serious research, Stacey has put together this article that’s part coffee shop guide, part seasonal drink recommendation list, and part studying/coffee shop etiquette tips. Whether you’re cramming for exams, or just want a cozy beverage at a local shop during the holidays, this one will definitely come in handy.
With finals around the corner, it’s time to get serious about studying and most importantly, staying properly caffeinated! Here’s a look at some popular study spots, a peek at their seasonal drinks, and some insider tips on how to maximize your experience.
Ok, let’s take a look around…
Starbucks isn’t the only place to get your pumpkin spice fix. Café Eclectic has introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte with homemade sauce. It’s delicious and tastes like toasted spices and pumpkin. This subtly sweet treat will make your brain happy.
Since Eclectic offers table service, be sure and ask for an out of the way space to study – one that won’t take away from waiters’ assigned tables, especially during peak times. It’s a great way to show some consideration and the staff will be thankful for your thoughtfulness.
City & State switches up their menu quite a bit, so definitely check out their latest offerings. Their pumpkin spice fix comes in the form of the Jack O made with spiced pumpkin, vanilla and orange zest. And depending on how long you’ve been studying and how monstrous the course is, The Swamp Thing, made with brown sugar, cinnamon and matcha green tea latte will definitely hit the spot.
The seating options at City & State include mostly four tops, a community table, and window seating. If you are alone, choose a seat at the community table or at the window rather than taking up an entire four top with your laptop, backpack, and whatnot.
(Bonus: If you need a study break, head over to the retail side of the shop and get a jump on your holiday shopping. Or, just treat yourself!)
Speaking of shopping, Edge Alley is another great place to get coffee, eat, and support small business owners, thanks to their four adjacent pop up shops. And, even better, they’re now in cahoots with High Cotton, so you can have food over at High Cotton or have beer at Edge Alley.
Wait, there’s more! Edge Alley has a new cocktail menu featuring coffee cocktails. Coffee. Cocktails. Yes! How does small batch gin with cold brew coffee, blackberry, fresh sage, cider vinegar, orange, and raw honey sound? Maybe you prefer some dessert in your coffee? Try the affogato — espresso, pumpkin pie semifreddo, cinnamon roll crumble, and coconut whip.
Keeping in mind that Edge Alley serves breakfast, lunch, and (now) dinner (!), plan to study before 4:00pm when the space transitions to suit the happy hour and dinner crowd. Laptops are always welcome in the window where they have twenty outlets.
If the weather has you feeling a little wimpy, head to Otherlands for a Lemon Ginger Zinger tea. Not only is it delicious – it’s good for you! They also have all of your favorite coffees, probiotic drinks (Benefizz), and a full menu to keep you fueled.
Otherlands has lots of space for you and your friends, should you like to study in a group, but be mindful of where you string your power cords and try to consolidate as much as possible as they have many regulars who want to hang out and do their thing.
If you really want some quiet, and maybe a Prozac cupcake or a homemade “Pop Tart,” try Muddy’s Midtown or the new Bluff City Coffee in Cooper-Young. Both offer sweets along with their coffee and private study rooms where everyone just naturally stays hushed. (These two picks are also good for you early birds, Muddy’s opens at 6:30am and Bluff City opens at 6:00am.)
If you are looking for a downtown hideaway and I don’t know, maybe even BREAKFAST ALL DAY, check out Tamp & Tap. It’s got a real relaxed vibe and is definitely conducive to getting shit done! Two drinks to try: The Cannonball, an espresso and spiced chai latte and The Crescent with house-made cinnamon chicory syrup, nitro cold brew, and cream.
(If Greg Peeples, the manager, is there, ask him to make you one of his coffee iced teas. It’s not on the menu, but it should be! It’s the best of both coffee and iced tea in one drink.)
And finally, have you heard of The Office at Uptown? This is the place to take your studying to a whole new level and/or act like a real businessperson. This downtown eatery offers coffee, soup, sandwiches, fax machines, computers, desks, conference rooms and more. Aw, yeah!
Coffee Shop/Studying Pro Tips
There are some pesky Health Department rules that coffee shop owners must enforce. There’s no outside food or drink allowed, and that includes water bottles. (Most coffee shops offer free water and sell yummy snacks, so no worries there.)
No pets inside, but if the weather is nice, you can have them keep you company outside, provided there’s outdoor seating. And finally, the old standby: no shirt, no shoes, no service. (Chances are you will come in fully dressed, but resist the urge to slip out of your shoes, even at the table.)
Also, a good rule of thumb is that one coffee = about two hours of table time and wifi. If you end up in a marathon study session, try purchase something else to drink, or snack on, or take home every few hours.
Ed. Note. Here are a few more places/bits of news for you to put Stacey’s tips to good use.
– The Avenue Coffee is testing out an earlier opening time on November 24 and 25. Stop by from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for a free cup of coffee and to let them know if you like the earlier hours.
– Belltower Artisans just opened their coffee shop + pottery studio on the Highland Strip.
– Check out this post for even more Memphis coffee shops.
Stacey Greenberg is a freelance writer who lives in Cooper Young with her two teenaged sons. She’s a contributor to Thrillist.com, Edible Memphis, I Love Memphis, and Memphis Travel. She’s also the author of the award winning blog, Dining with Monkeys (diningwithmonkeys.com). A lifelong Memphian, she loves the fact that she’s never met a stranger here.