As finals season approaches at CIEE, it’s easy to find myself increasingly spending less and less time at museums, bars, and tourist spots and more and more time in front of my laptop screen studying and writing papers. While this change of pace can be a real downer at times, I’ve used this opportunity to familiarize myself with the café scene of the city around me. I’ve never been someone who does their best work in the library (too quiet) or at home (too cozy), so I’ve learned over the years that a coffee shop—in the Czech Republic, kavarna—is the best option for me to maximize productivity and minimize distractions. Prague’s cafes run the gamut from casual grab-and-go coffee joints to large-scale artisan coffee shops complete with leather couches, wrought-iron light fixtures, and carefully curated indie rock playlists. In my efforts to combine caffeination with education I’ve had time to explore many—though not nearly all—of the best local establishments for both studying and snacking. The following is a brief list of some of my favorites:
This café was one of the first places I visited in Prague, and I was attracted to it namely because of its close proximity to my apartment building. It has tasty coffee, comfortable seating, and most importantly some of the best avocado toast I have ever consumed. With pomegranate seeds and a poached egg, my standards were set incredibly high from the get go of my search for the perfect study spot. While I was thrilled with the food, its high popularity didn’t lend very well to taking out my laptop and setting up shop for any more than a half hour or so—it’s much better a spot for a casual breakfast with friends than for getting major work done. The journey continues!
The Globe Bookstore and Cafe
My next destination was The Globe Bookstore and Cafe. I’ve done my homework here on multiple occasions and can’t say enough positive things about it. The restaurant menu has enough variety and substance to sustain you through the worst hours of your studying, and the bookstore portion of the establishment provides the perfect study break—or study aid, in case you forgot your Franz Kafka at home. They have consistently wonderful service and a rotating selection of modern artwork on the walls that’s up for sale. With a grande vanilla dolce latte and an order of banana French toast, you are unstoppable.
Coffee and Waffles
While I’m certain that the entire trajectory of my life has led to my destiny of eating at Coffee and Waffles in Prague’s Old Town, I will say that it is not totally in concert with the desire to get much work done. Its name is pretty self-explanatory—the menu is solely coffee and waffle-oriented—and while I have absolutely zero complaints about that fact (more the opposite) it is not the type of place where I’d want to break out a laptop. Syrup doesn’t typically bode well for computers or books. I wanted this to be my favorite study spot so badly because it’s barely a block away from where I take classes at Charles University. Even if it’s not everything I need in a study space, I can resign myself with the fact that the perfect menu does exist somewhere, and it’s all waffles.
I think this is the café that I frequent the most out of any on this list. It’s a very cute café on the way to Old Town Square and feels like an interior design catalogue come to life. It has comfy pillows to sit on, reclaimed wooden benches, succulents on every table, and very cool fluorescent light strips that serve as wall and ceiling artwork. The latte art is gorgeous and every single person who works there is heavily tattooed. I love this place for the atmosphere and coffee selection, but by far its best attribute is the music. One day I was there they played strictly Drake, then another day they played modern instrumental music without words, another day they played just old radio classics. I am not usually a proponent of a typical coffee house playlist (Nora Jones covers, Jack Johnson covers, basically just folk covers in general) so this place can always be counted on for a calm but enjoyable study vibe.
I will conclude my list with what is arguably the most study-friendly space I have encountered as of yet. Cafedu tops my list for study quality because it is open late and has large wooden tables meant for sharing space or working on group projects. Laptops are out everywhere, and it’s clear that this place is a destination for students and professionals to get some work done. They serve coffee as well as breakfast and lunch foods, including a hummus plate that was almost too pretty to eat. Best of all, there are outlets everywhere, a crucial bonus. Throughout my search for the best place to sit for hours and drink coffee and work, this is the place that I feel meets the most of my desires. If you need to get group work done or don’t mind a chatty space, this is definitely the place for you—but if you’re more of a quiet studier, maybe just stop by to try the desserts, which are phenomenal.
I feel that this odyssey towards the perfect intersection of my caffeination and academic needs has allowed me to get to know the city of Prague in more ways than I would have anticipated. I’ve learned that almost anywhere you go you’ll be hard-pressed to find a cup of bad coffee, which is a huge plus. I’ve been able to put my survival Czech skills into practice through learning my coffee order and how to quickly recognize the necessary coins and bills for payment. I learned that almost every coffee shop has some variation of the same WiFi password (generally the café name, with some combination of the words “coffee” “love” and “WiFi”). My search has taken me to parts of the city I usually wouldn’t expect to visit, and each place presents something new that I’ve never seen before. Through my unconventional café crawl, I’ve been able to get to know the city I’ll call home for the rest of the semester, without sacrificing my GPA as a result.