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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Coffee houses encourage intellectual thought

How changing your study space to a local coffee shop can increase focus and encourage creativity


By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu


Historically, coffee shops have served as a place for the gathering and birth of creative thought. In London, they were a site for aristocrats to gather and muse about the latest scientific progress or the English political sphere. In Paris, coffee houses can be credited for the rise of contra-government ideas that spread throughout France and lit the fire known as the French Revolution. And in the Ottoman Empire, coffee was a unifying beverage enjoyed by both the elite and the lower class, melting social structures and bringing great thinkers together. 

Although, admittedly, the coffee houses of the past were organized quite differently from the modern Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee, I believe that the nature of coffee as a social phenomenon still remains. Over the course of fall quarter, I paid a visit to quite a few local coffee shops in downtown Davis, including Mishka’s, Black Frog Coffee and Philz. The atmosphere inside each and every one was phenomenal, and I believe, quite difficult to find and enjoy elsewhere. 

As I walked into Mishka’s for the first time, the scent of freshly-brewed coffee enveloped me and the bustle of intellectual conversation met my ears. Bits of sentences wafted through the air in my direction; I picked up an argument about what was the best way to solve an equation, a student passionately explaining a new concept they learned in physics and a couple laughing over a mutual joke. A wall of packaged coffee with origins in Sumatra, Peru and Ethiopia was on display behind the counter, and an old typewriter by the door added to the ambiance and decor of the shop. 

Standing in line, I watched as one, two, then three of the open seats in the café were taken by students precariously balancing their lattes and laptops. The shop was busy, but in the very best way, fostering creativity and lighthearted discourse. 

As I took my seat at Mishka’s, or any other coffee house in Davis, my mind was clear and focused on the task ahead of me. Whether I had work to complete for my psychology professor or a paper to write, the gentle music, bright open windows and neat tables were incredibly inviting and thought-provoking. Perhaps it was the history of the coffee shop as an intellectual crossroads that helped me focus, or maybe it was just the change of scenery that made the difference. I like to think it was both. 

Not to mention, what better tool to help you study than a delicious cup of coffee? While coffee beverages can be rather expensive if you purchase them consistently, a nice boost of caffeine is exactly what I, and many others, need to focus during a long study session. So, bought sparingly, coffee is an excellent beverage to keep you wakeful and energized for several hours at a time. 

That being said, regularly changing the environment you are studying in has been proven to increase memory retention and improve concentration. Choosing to study in a coffee shop once or twice a week can help bring variety into your academic life and expose you to experiences and individuals that you wouldn’t normally encounter on campus. Not only this, but just observing the baristas efficiently preparing drinks and managing such a busy environment motivates me to remain focused and work hard on whatever assignment I have at hand. 

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a change of pace, some inspiration or a few like-minded individuals to converse with, look no further than your nearest coffeehouse. 


Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.