We all know that the library and dorm rooms are mostly for show; the real work and play happen out there in the world. College's daylight hours should find you ensconced in your favorite café to take advantage of free Wi-Fi, sip your matcha, and contemplate the beauty that is four walls painted something other than an institutional shade of off-white.
And once the sun goes down, you need some place to shake it out. In that spirit, here are some of tried-and-true favorites.
2902 W. Colorado Ave., 632-3322, agiasophiacoffeeshop.com
If you find yourself easily engrossed in the philosophy of ancient Europeans, Agia Sophia might be your mug of chai, for which this particular coffee shop is well-known.
Emulating the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the interior of Agia Sophia is appropriately reminiscent of an ancient Eastern Orthodox church. Bookshelves overflowing with texts on ancient religion for the theologically curious line the walls, and the "Russian Room," decorated with antique nesting dolls, is perfectly suited for parties of the studious variety. Recorded Gregorian-monk chants and deep leather armchairs contribute to an ideal ambiance for contemplation and philosophical discussion. Also, if you submit a brief review about your favorite book, you get a free drink. — HB
11550 Ridgeline Drive, 772-6101, cafevelobikes.com
Even if you could care less about this year's Tour de France, and shy away from the specter of Lycra, Café Velo's airy space, huge picture windows, and sun-drenched patio offer a serene retreat for espresso enthusiasts. Because it boasts one of the nicest machines in the city, you've never tasted a creamier cappuccino. The baristas' attention to detail extends to herbaceous latte art that pairs nicely with cushy couches, a fireplace and the best view of the mountains that a $2 doppio and a packet of chocolate-covered açai can buy.
And if you are the type who'd consider biking here on the conveniently located Santa Fe Trail, you can always gaze upon their selection of very pretty, as-yet-unattainable Cervelos over the rim of your quinoa bowl. — CS
1019 S. Tejon St., 520-0672
Fall is here (hear the yell) and you're looking for a quiet, comfortable nook just far enough from campus to avoid that one guy from Intro Psych. Preferably, a pair of tapestry-back armchairs and French-press-for-two enter into the picture for your date with Chinua Achebe or Descartes.
Settle in with a cup of Kona on Montague's pint-size back patio to idle away the last of summer, or snag a window seat to watch the cold weather roll in. Prices and distance might make this a Saturday splurge rather than a weekday staple for the average penniless scholar, but when you're done banging out that 10-pager on the Modernists, you've more than earned a piece of their signature coconut cream cake. — CS
Urban Steam Coffee Bar and Café
1025 S. Sierra Madre St., 473-7832, urbansteamcoffee.com
The mellow tones of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes seem almost out of place in this stark, yet brightly colored, warehouse — curiously adorned with welding masks — in a secluded corner of downtown, but the contrast inspires peaceful productivity.
Baristas of Urban Steam take their time with each cup of coffee, using the pour-over method for drips, but the low prices and flavorsome results make it well worth the wait. Those with emptier bellies and fatter wallets may want to treat themselves to a gourmet waffle or panini, with inventive names like the Pig Iron, the Anvil or the Prototype. — HB
Hatch Cover Bar & Grill
252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-5223, hatchcover.biz
In life, there are days when you just want an honest-to-gods bar that doesn't have books, hipster vibes or a thousand microbrews at your disposal. You don't want to make decisions, you just want a mid-level spot to kick back, buy a few pitchers, and maybe laugh with some soldiers.
On these days, the Hatch Cover is your place. Down on the south side of town, you won't have to worry about parking, crowds or pretense. Open until 2 a.m. daily, HC is the place to go when you've just got to have an MGD with a side of pool to keep you company. Soak up your sadness with some Hatch Cover Nachos before returning to this weird thing called reality. — NK
Rico's Café and Wine Bar
322½ N. Tejon St., 578-5549, poorrichardsdowntown.com
Novels by local authors on tarot reading. Miniature toy catapults with accompanying armies of handheld swordsmen. Affordable espresso. Gluten-free pizza topped with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic.
If you're looking for a one-stop-shop for the intellectual (yet still desperately playful) type, Rico's Cafe & Wine Bar — part of the sprawling Poor Richard's complex — has you covered. The cozy smooth-jazz coffee shop sits amid three other businesses, meaning you can take a study break by wandering through a used book store, playing in a room full of children's games and toys, or eating one of the city's best handmade pizzas with an accompanying pitcher of Bristol beer or a bottle of Cabernet. — NK
702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412, shugas.com
Quaint café by day and sophisticated bar by night, Shuga's is the perfect place for infant 21-year-olds wanting to test out their new horizontal IDs in a non-threatening environment. The atmosphere itself is friendly, with 1940s bar stools and Pinterest-y centerpieces, while turquoise paper cranes festoon the orange ceiling.
Shuga's even sells a drink called the Adult Juice Box — a delicious concoction of grape-flavored vodka and white sangria — for your first time out on the town. It's definitely off the beaten bar-path, despite a central location, so whether you're sipping lavender lemonades with friends or Blushing Geisha martinis on a first date, you ought to take advantage of it. — HB
111 E. Boulder St., 418-3484, supernovabar.com
Some nights you stay up and want to cash in your bad luck. And by bad luck, I mean quarters you found glued to the bottom of your couch cushion. What do you stand for? Most nights you probably don't know, but tonight you are eternally young, and the answer is Pac-Man and beer.
If brews and vintage video game cabinets sound like fun — the band and the time — meander over to Supernova. Relive the '80s as you beat your best friend into Street Fighter submission. With a full menu until 1:30 a.m. every night, you can grab a bacon, fried egg, jalapeño-laden Supernova Burger to munch on while Van Hagar's greatest hits and assorted technicolor lights bring your fading childhood back to momentary life. — NK