Accessibility to coffee is crucial to fueling a study session or a preventing a midday crash between classes. I went in search of the closest coffee near campus and evaluated based on price, distance, products and viability as a regular spot to hang out.
For the sake of scientific accuracy, I ordered the most basic drink at each spot to compare across the board: the iced vanilla latte. Each location was considered for the title of “Most Convenient”, “Bang for Your Buck”, “Coolest Atmosphere”, and “Best Coffee”. Here’s what I found on my caffeinated adventure. Findings are organized by closest to furthest from UCCS.
Big Cat Coffee – 0 miles, $4.87 for a 16-ounce latte
Pretty good coffee with good prices for specialty drinks, and you can’t beat the commute. All campus locations have decent seating options for hanging out and studying, as long as the locations stay open throughout the year. While there is typically a wide selection of food and bakery items, they tend to be underwhelming and more expensive. If you have a short amount of time between classes that will prevent you from going to a secondary location, Big Cat Coffee is a perfect option.
“Most Convenient” Starbucks – 1.9 miles from campus, $6.22 for a 16-ounce latte
Starbucks is a classic, it’s close and there’s always seating. The menu is familiar, and there is something for everyone. One of the best coffees and super close to campus with a seating area that stays open later than any other on the list. However, it seems customers pay mostly for convenience, as Starbucks was the most expensive latte for the least amount of coffee.
“Bang for Your Buck” Dunkin’ – 2 miles from campus, $5.29 for a 24-ounce latte
Dunkin seems controversial to mention. It’s less of a cafe than a fast-food place with coffee — but it is one of the closest places to grab something while staying near campus. The iced coffee can be good, and there are many options for those who like sweeter drinks. There is a lobby that you could sit in, but I don’t know of many people who like hanging out inside Dunkin Donuts.
“Coolest Atmosphere” Kairos Coffee House- 2.6 miles from campus, $4.65 for an 18-ounce latte
There is no more classic café vibe than Kairos. Their coffee is great, they have a short seasonal menu of specialty drinks and they feature food options for both breakfast and lunch. This is a great place to hang out, as long you can get a seat (it tends to be a little crowded).
Scooters Coffee – 2.6 miles from campus, $5.68 for a 20-ounce latte
With a drive-thru as well as indoor seating, Scooters is a great contender for a regular spot. They have breakfast food options, specialty drinks inspired by candy bar flavors and hardly ever a line in the drive-thru or indoors.
Dutch Bros. – 2.9 miles from campus, $5.25 for a 20-ounce latte
Both the Garden of the Gods location and the Austin Bluffs shop are equal distances from UCCS. Whichever one has a shorter line depends on factors that remain a mystery to me. They offer no food or indoor seating, but a more extensive range of drink flavors and are open much later than most coffee places in town.
While I certainly wish there were more local options a reasonable distance from campus, there are so many cafes to explore in Colorado Springs that will suit your needs for a productive study session, both between classes and on the weekends.
Big Cat Coffee has locations in the University Center, Columbine Hall, and Dwire Hall. Photo taken by Lillian Davis.