Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


What is it about cafes?


Why do we turn to coffee shops to complete our in and out-of-school work? Cafes can be perceived as an ironic place to get stuff done especially because these are the establishments regularly filled to the brim with people and noisy conversations. Does this not seem like a distracting effort to finish your schoolwork?

To answer why we are still drawn to the cafe environment, let us take a look at the history of cafes. We all read the book A History of the World in 6 Glasses and annotated the section on coffee–one of the six popular drinks– therefore following its journey from the beginning of cafe culture to now. Perhaps, it is the power of coffee that pulls us all together in these crammed shops, as coffee itself is a stimulant for your brain. As A History of the World in 6 Glasses recounts, “[t]he popularity of coffee spread like wildfire in Europe, giving rise to coffeehouses that became centers of intellectual and political discourse.” Now, is that not strange, coffeehouses (or coffee shops), are and have been a place of discussion since the 1500s. This productive environment is still alive today as you talk with your friends over your books, textbooks, and maybe a meal, creativity flows constantly. Surrounded by constant conversation and work-related talk, it is likely you will find your motivation to finish your workload.

Now, I will try my very best to differentiate my love between cafes, more specifically those around Charleston: Metto, The Daily (& The Daily Popup shop), Harbinger, and Second State. I have just recently fallen in love with the art of working in cafes, as it truly is an art. If I ever have an empty morning, a specific craving, or hours of work piling up make no mistake, I will get into my car and make my way over to the nearest one. I do not know what it is about these places, the close range of Metto or the delicious Harbinger avocado toast, that always keeps me coming back. However, I know the ambiance, coffee/food, and staff, are a large part of the equation. But these factors differ from place to place and some cafes remain better working environments than others.

Whipped Feta Toast from the Daily & The Daily Pop-up shop.

Food and coffee are the greatest factors of all for getting work finished and submitted. Food provides protein, fat, and carbohydrates for our body and takes part in metabolic processes for us to gain energy for the day. Coffee acting as a stimulating agent also plays a large role in our energy capacity. So, the perfect study location must have adequate food and coffee to be ranked one of the best study locations in Charleston. When it comes to food, the Daily (& the new Daily pop-up shop) takes the cake. No one can go wrong with their whipped feta toast, a delicacy to the Charleston population. Chloe Carlsten and I may seriously be the number one fans of this dish. While eating this dish together Chloe told me “Even if she found a hair buried in her feta toast, she would continue to eat it”…wow.

“even if I found a hair buried in my whipped feta toast I would continue to eat it”

— Chloe Carlsten

We are never not craving the dish or ordering something else on the menu, never. It excels all other food on the menu anyway, and possibly all other food in Charleston. Harbinger comes next as their avocado toast is impeccable. What other cafe layers spice, nuts, and onions onto the same piece of toast!? This seemingly odd combination is what makes the toast so special. Together, both establishments concoct the best yogurt bowls as well, with fruitful ingredients that always leave you wanting more. These two take first place in the food category without debate.

Avocado Toast from Harbinger

Studying in a cafe requires a decent ambiance, sometimes cafes include background music, some are silent, and some are buzzing with conversations. The placings in this category depend solely on your preference and workload. When I am in dire need of working on my college supplementals, I turn to Second State. Normally after school the cafe is destitute and it has plenty of space to work. I pop my earbuds in and there are no distractions for the rest of my day. Harbinger is also another favorite working place for me, my only point of subtraction is their lack of space. The tables are quite small to fit both my books and computer on. It is crazy to think when it comes to ambiance, the Daily is the one that is lacking. The establishment is almost always crammed and their are never open tables to work on. The biggest downside is their lack of wifi, pressuring people to eat quickly all while keeping people flowing in and out. Metto wins this category with plenty of space inside and out. This establishment does not have any downsides and knocks the rest of the cafes out of the running.

Hard at work at Harbinger.

Staff can sometimes have a big or small impact on your experience at these cafes. I respect Metto when it comes to their staff. When I order they never forget to ask if I have my drink card–10 stamps per coffee with the 11th coffee free–, and when I forget mine they offer me a replacement every time without fail. One time I asked them to fill up my water bottle and they were more then willing. It is impossible to feel rushed at this establishment, I have once stayed there for four hours at a time. Harbinger is great too, they bring all food items out to you and leave you to yourself. This is a great customer/staff relationship when you need to get work finished. Second State is not too complicated either, you get your drink and get to work. The daily pop up is also a great option, and they even leave cute notes on the table telling you “we’re so glad you’re here”. Metto also comes  first in this final category.

Sweet Note from the Daily Pop-up

What do you like in a cafe?

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