Cafe Reviews, Part Four

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The beauty of MoHi: never enough cafes to go to. In our fourth installment of cafe reviews, we explore the bipolar nature of your friendly neighborhood European-esque coffee bar, and the most awesome cafe ever.

You can even converse while drinking coffee

Max Cafe:

Upon first walking in, Max seems a little *too* chill for studying prospects. The walls are a warm red, overly long sofas dominate seating arrangements, and mood lighting was probably invented in this place. The sofas are definitely the way to go: people seem to be working just fine while reclining at an almost 180 degree angle. A singular plushy chair also has promise — you may even get your own little dragonfly-patterened table. The coffee cups are approximately the size of a small planet. The objectively awesome seats at Max come with two related drawbacks: it’s hard to choose where to sit because everywhere looks equally comfortable, but once you sit getting up is impossible. Everything is so damn plush. Yelp advertises some promising salads, and there’s an extensive menu that involves French toast. The noise level can get a little problematic, especially near the coffee bar; but that can be easily avoided by sneaking away to a back area with even more couches and an almost-silent volume of conversation. The other patrons get a little obnoxious with couch space, but that just means that you can spread out too. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that urgent work seems virtually impossible here — the waitresses just won’t refill your coffee desperately enough. At this point in finals, though, that’s almost a blessing. Time to sink a little deeper into this chair.

Joe by day:

The most trying part of studying at Joe–during the day, that is, when it functions as a coffee shop and not an up-for-grabs dead zone–is finding a seat. Unlike Butler or the actual library in NoCo, the people occupying your would-be seats aren’t sleep-deprived (or sleeping) students, easily intimidated or shamed into scooting over or even vacating their seats. Nope, your competition at Joe is a bearded, possibly European grad student hopped up on overpriced espresso and absorbed in a two-hour long debate about philosophy. Or sexuality. Or something. Once you’ve managed to wrangle a spot through stakeout, bribery, or just plain luck, though, one quickly realizes why a Joe seat is so coveted: for those who prefer ambient noise and natural light to the stifling silence of the college library, Joe is pretty damn ideal. Coffee and salted chocolate chip cookie (they’re vegan!) in hand, fifty pages of CC reading is a cinch, helped along by a killer view of Hogwarts Teacher’s College and unbeatable peoplewatching. Three hours of productive labor later, someone else can compete for the seat; you’ve already done your work for the day, and it’s not even 4 pm.

Joe by night:

I can’t speak to the financial reasoning behind closing a coffee shop on a college campus at 8 p.m., but I can tell you that the difference between a trip to Joe during operating hours and a trip to Joe after hours is as clear as, well, day and night. Gone are the baristas and their unconventional facial piercings. Gone with them are the incessantly long line (and all of the middle-aged hipsters that so love to wait on it) and the oppressive 80s music (is their love of Journey ironic? We’ll never know). In fact, the frenetic energy so present during the day is basically absent, leaving the open space with a feel that would almost be intimate if not for the unapologetically fluorescent glow of those weird stick-lights hanging from the ceiling. The only sounds are the hushed conversation of the other scattered studiers, who are admittedly less well-dressed than the daytime patrons. However, this relaxed atmosphere is ideal for studying, and the absurdly large space that Joe occupies (only Columbia would build a science building with more cafe space than lecture hall space) will prevent you from getting all library-claustrophobic. The off-white color of…everything will keep you awake without scalding your retinas, and there are even scattered outlets in the floor for those of you progressive enough to do work on computers. The chairs aren’t exactly comfortable, but that serves as more of a motivation to work than a hindrance. It’s not a bad place to study, whether alone or with a friend, but one piece of advice: bring coffee, because Joe isn’t selling and it’s a long walk to anywhere that is.

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  1. Anonymous  

    is the primal scream tonight?

  2. Metrocard

    I will reiterate. $2.25. GET OFF CAMPUS.

  3. Awww  

    Who's the adorable couple in the picture? I feel like I've seen them staring lovingly into each others eyes on the Low steps recently.

  4. NoCo Coffe Addict  

    In terms of Joe's after hours- if you're that desperate for a fix, Olive Tree (that random hole-in-the wall with a green awning) on the other side of 119th and broadway has surprisingly decent non-instant coffee for $1.25.

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