Like most arts students, I don’t really have much else to do apart from spend time in coffee shops. But with more coffee shops in town than ever before, finding the right place can be a daunting prospect. After two and a half years of careful research, I’ve come to a pretty good conclusion about which ones are the best (i.e. the cheapest) and which ones don’t quite make the cut. So whether you’re wanting to catch up with a friend, study somewhere that’s quieter than the library but warmer than your flat, or make googly eyes at that special someone without committing to a full on dinner, here are my top five places to go for coffee. (Disclaimer: I don’t actually drink coffee. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the black stuff. So this list is based on hot chocolate, rather than coffee.)
5. Costa. It’s the Heinz tomato soup, the woolly jumper, the home-cooked meal of coffee shops. It’s not fancy, and may not offer you anything new or exciting (although their seasonal specials are always worth checking out), but it’s warm and comfortable, and you know you’re going to get a decent hot chocolate every time. Like a McDonalds or a
Wetherspoons, this is a faithful stand-by when inspiration runs dry.
4. Janetta’s. Yes, it does more than ice-cream. It’s a little bit pricey, but trust me, you get your money’s worth. It’s a good place to take your parents if/when they visit, as you get to show them a part of quintessential St Andrews that you might not normally want to pay for, and the ice-cream shop is just next door if you want to continue the experience. Also, you get THREE different types of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, which is the size of a soup bowl. Enough said.
3. Bibi’s. You’ve had the cake. Now have the coffee (or whatever hot drink floats your boat – they’ve got loads). I have to admit, it’s taken a while for this one to grow on me as, at first, I found it to be a little chilly inside. However, it has a lovely atmosphere, and the staff are really friendly. Also, the ultimate hot chocolate certainly warms you up, as well as providing you with your full day’s intake of sugar. I have to mention the cakes and tray bakes as well, which are just as delicious as their South Street counterparts, although I’d caution against having a cake and the ultimate hot chocolate in the same sitting, unless you want a sugar overload.
2. The Coffee House. Cheap and cheerful, this is the budget alternative to Costa. You know you’re going to get a decent hot drink without having to break the bank, and it’s location on Greyfriar’s Gardens means that it’s central enough to be busy, but out of the way enough that it’s not overcrowded. Again, it’s maybe not the cosiest place, but the room at the back is a nice little addition that means you can at least attempt to gain some privacy, something that’s hard to come by in the bubble.
1. Con Panna. Admittedly, I’ve not actually been in to this one, I’ve just sat outside, but that was good enough to put this at the top of my list. The hot chocolate was cheap, and is one of the best I’ve ever had (tasting all the sweeter because the money from it was going to charity as part of one of the second year enterprise modules: chocolate with a conscience). The fact that it’s tucked away from the centre of town makes this one relatively unknown amongst the student population, meaning this is one of St Andrews’ best kept secrets. You’ll be unlikely to be fighting for a seat, and it’s one of the few places in town where students don’t always outnumber locals. Don’t be put off by the greasy spoon appearance; as an English student, I have it on good authority that you should never judge a book by its cover.