Caffeine-induced advice: birmingham coffee Ed.
Abigail Shepherd ‘19
When I first started writing this article, it was going to be on my advice for the infamous first semester of senior year: a semester with demanding classes, more responsibilities in extracurriculars, and, of course, college applications. However, I think we all know that I am not exactly the person that should be giving out advice. I’m no expert on great study habits or effectively minimizing stress. You could often find me procrastinating in the student store, doing last-minute homework, or roaming the halls in a sleep-deprived trance. So, what did get me through this whole mess? Caffeine. Lots of it. Sometimes it was tea at my desk late at night, but often it was in a coffee shop, where I tend to be most productive. So while I may not have my act together, hopefully the endless hours in coffee shops can benefit some of you. Below are some of my favorites along with my experiences there, which may provide more insight on senior year than my rambling anyways.
My top 10 coffee destinations from across Birmingham.
Church St Coffee & Books
Address: 81 Church St, Mountain Brook, AL 35213
What to get: Cappuccino, Strawberry lemonade, a tree-hugger, or a cookie (they are famous for their break-up cookie, but all of them are great). They also have a great selection of books to choose from or simply peruse while waiting for your drink.
I practically live in here. Yes, this is partly due to its proximity to my house, but it is mainly because of the good vibes and community there. I’ve been coming here since middle school along with many other students, which often contributes to a studious atmosphere. It’s also open until 10 pm, often just the start of a long night. The staff are welcoming familiar faces and so are many of the regulars. Everyone needs a good study spot where they can actually get stuff done, and this has long been mine.
Revelator: Sweet Jon’s Cafe
Address: 2821 Central Ave, Homewood, AL 35209
What to get: You can’t really go wrong with drinks. They have high-quality coffee and tea, so I usually get a black coffee or cold brew when coming here. They also have food you can order off the menu, but I usually get one of their muffins.
A great place to come with friends to study or talk. There’s plenty of seating and an open atmosphere as well as a “green room” with lots of plants.
Address: 2000 Pelham Pkwy, Pelham, AL 35124
What to get: I usually just get a coffee way too late at night, but the obvious choice is pancakes. They also have a grinch hot chocolate that is popular among friends.
Senior year is definitely not all about stress and studying. Having places to escape from work is not only recommended but necessary to ensure you can maintain at least some of your sanity and avoid burnout. IHOP has been one of those places for me this year. A couple of close friends and I will congregate here to discuss whether food can be classified as a soup, salad, or sandwich, the inevitability of world destruction, and just life in general. In the midst of all the crap we’ve been dealing with this year, IHOP memories are some of my fondest.
Address: 1020 Oak Mountain Park Rd, Pelham, AL 35124
What to get: Waffles. With chocolate chips. Also hashbrowns.
If you haven’t been to Waffle House, are you really a Springs student? This iconic hangout is open 24/7 and their waffles are heavenly. College essays have literally been written about this place. You will often find Springs students loitering in the parking lot or taking up every booth after school events.
Golden Temple Cafe
Address: 1901 11th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205
What to get: Literally everything is amazing I swear. I usually get an iced coffee and tofu stir fry or a guacamole salad, but you can’t go wrong.
Vegetarian comfort food at it’s finest. I’ve bonded with several people just over a love of this place. I went here after every standardized test— it’s at least something to look forward to after your brain has been fried. After a good meal, head to the natural grocery store next door or drop by one of the cool record shops in Five Points to satisfy your inner hipster.
Address: 2831 18th Street South, Homewood, AL 35209
What to get: They have good specialty drinks and iced tea (try the “front porch special”)
The coziest coffee shop around. The warm vibes can comfort your cold, depressed heart as you write college essays or rant to a friend.
Address: 2320 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
What to get: Iced vanilla latte, scone, veggie reuben sandwich.
I don’t come downtown often, but when I do I love stop by this cool spot.
Address: 1909 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223
What to get: Cappuccino, almond croissant
This little nook is not necessarily the best place to study, but definitely stop by with a friend to try their amazing coffee and European-style bread and pastries. The owner, Carole, is IGL’s mom and the coolest person ever.
Address: 200 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222
What to get: I honestly don’t come here enough to say- whatever you want.
I have no earthly idea how someone came up with a space-themed coffee shop/bar with board and video games that doubles as a concert venue, but it works. If you are 18+, they have some great concerts coming up such as Lucy Dacus, Kurt Vile, and Girlpool.
Address: 2018 Morris Ave, Birmingham, AL 35203
What to get: drip coffee and brunch.
Morris Avenue is a really cute part of Birmingham, with cobblestone streets and artisanal shops. The Essential fits right into this aesthetic. I’ve only been here once, but everything was delicious so I had to include it.
Need a quick fix? These coffee destinations are all less than 10 minutes away.
Again, a cult classic. Reference notes above.
Address: 210 Cahaba Valley Rd, Pelham, AL 35124
It’s a cute little establishment nearby where you can grab a coffee and a scone and sit outside on a nice day.
Address: 499 Southgate Dr, Pelham, AL 35124
Can get a substantial cup of coffee that’s relatively inexpensive and brunch. Apparently their cake is good, too. Their service tends to be slow, though, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to come here if on a time crunch like before school.
Address: 580 Cahaba Valley Rd, Pelham, AL 35124
If you need some coffee ASAP, McDonald’s has a drive-through and their coffee isn’t terrible.
Address: 480 Cahaba Valley Rd, Pelham, AL 35124
I’m not a huge fan of their coffee, but their munchkins (mini-donuts) are cheap and often fuel Woodward Post meetings, so I had to give them a shout-out.
The Student Store
It may not always be stocked, but its staff are trying their best so don’t give them a hard time—do give them a high-five and a thank-you. They now have a hot water machine as well, which will hopefully lead to more hot drinks along with the usual Mountain Dew, Starbucks frapps, and other caffeinated staples.