October 6, 2014

O-Issue 2014: Coffee Shops


Besides its prime location on the first floor of the Reynolds Club, C-Shop hosts the historic Dollar Shake Wednesdays‚ during which milkshakes are sold for—wait for it—one dollar. Rumor has it that Einstein Bros was only allowed to operate in the space if it maintained this tradition. C-Shop is popular among hungry students looking for a bagel-ish breakfast alternative to nearby Bartlett Dining Hall or a quick snack. Or, for a clandestine meeting, snag a booth.

Hallowed Grounds

Right upstairs from C-Shop is Hallowed Grounds, with pool tables, old hardwood paneling, and couches spread throughout. Hallowed is and historically has been UChicago’s closest approximation to a student union, and remains the central student social/political center on campus. Proof: The café was nearly shut down to make space for RSO advising offices in 2013. A subsequent student-led petition to Save Hallowed reached more than 1,000 signatures.

Ex Libris

You will end up going because it’s in the library and you will be hungry while studying, or between studying and class. Ex Lib acts as a comfortable extension of the Reg. It is a good place to people-watch, but in the words of one *Maroon* staffer, “People there are basic.” Expensive/mediocre coffee, Mediterranean and orzo salads from Foodism. It’s all in the name: ex libris, “out of the library.”

Plein Air Café

Located right next to the popular Seminary Co-Op bookstore, the Plein Air Café opened March of this year and remains a relative unknown to many at the University. Styling itself after a rustic French atelier, the café serves water in mason jars and specializes in simple but stylish (expensive) food and drink. The professional designers and curators behind the shop and the art that graces its walls help to distinguish it from the other coffee shops on campus.

Common Knowledge

Common Knowledge is famous not for the quality of its coffee or its diversity of eating options (both of which are above average), but for its proximity to the Harper reading room (officially the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center). Indeed, the shop is often referred to simply as Harper Café. This synonymy with Harper is only enhanced by the café’s status, on Sundays through Thursdays, as the only coffee shop on campus that stays open until midnight. After midnight, if you are still in Harper, they give away free leftover coffee!

Cobb Coffee Shop

Cobb accepts that sometimes less really is more. There’s a sort of ramshackle approach to proceedings in Cobb, but that’s the point: Where other cafés feel formal, like venues for a meeting or study session, Cobb is more of a social center, with the music and low prices a huge part of the draw. Cobb has some of the cheapest coffee on campus, and a huge selection of fresh-baked goods every day keeps students coming back, many making a stop right before rushing off to class.

Grounds of Being

“Where God drinks coffee.” If your goal is simply to have the best cup of joe campus has to offer, look no further than Grounds of Being. If other on-campus coffee shops serve as alternatives to Starbucks or Einstein Bros, Grounds of Being exists as an alternative to that. A different coffee supplier, different sponsor, and different management (Alterra, the Divinity School Association, and Div School graduate students, respectively) all serve to create a unique, divine experience.

Logan Café

On the first floor of the Logan Center for the Arts lies the Logan Café, a home for those who feel a little too closed in by the University’s more centrally located cafés (read: all of them). There’s a no-noise policy, but Logan often feels like the calmest of all the coffee shops on campus. A modern aesthetic that matches the rest of the Logan Center—couches in the middle of the room and alcoholic options—helps give the café its own flavor of Aramark identity. The biweekly Catcher in the Rhyme slam poetry event and open mic nights happen there on even-numbered weeks.


Coffee Shop Hiring


So you want to be a barista? Come work at Hallowed Grounds, Cobb Coffee Shop, Ex Libris, or Harper Café this year. While researching each of our student-run coffee hangouts will give you an idea of location (to your dorm when you’re late to shift), type of coffee and local vendor selections (when you need that employee discount because your flex dollars are low), and atmosphere (so you know if your music will be accepted), the easiest way to get to know about these places is to come to open hiring!


You may apply separately to each shop by sending in an application or inquiring with staff (contact e-mails below), or you can come to open hiring, where participating coffee shops interview you at once, then decide who is the best fit for each shop (aka the “wand chooses the wizard” method). Questions will be based on your availabilities, music preferences, experience, and personality. Open hiring will be hosted the middle of O-Week, so start looking into applications and our coffee shops now!


Contact information for shop managers:

Hallowed Grounds:

Cobb Coffee Shop:

Ex Libris:

Harper Café: