Barista Parlor, Nashville TN
If you to go to: Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Lipscomb University
What to order: Bourbon Vanilla Latte and a Macaroon
Why it's cool: It's in my hometown (duh!) But actually, they pull coffee selections from roasters around the country, the three shops are totally beautiful and worthy of an Instagram, the food is awesome, and the music is always good.
Pavement Coffee, Boston MA
If you go to: Northeastern University, Boston University, Harvard College, Tufts University, Boston College, Emerson College, MassArt or any of the other 1.6 billion colleges in Boston.
What to order: Spanish Latte, Iced Apple Cider, and a Turkey BLT.
Why it's cool: It feels like there's a location on every street, but each one is unique enough to retain the non-chain, super local and hip feel. The soundtrack is awesome and the seating options are super diverse, ranging from a table for 12 to bar seats at the window for people watching.
Heart Coffee, Portland OR
If you go to: Reed College, University of Portland, Lewis and Clark College, Warner Pacific College, Concordia University, etc.
What to order: The Vanilla Latte, Ethiopian Guji Drip Brew, or any drink with their house-made Cashew Milk
Why it's cool: These guys are all about making things in-house. They have a giant coffee roaster right in the middle of the shop, so you can watch the roasting happen. The baristas are all super knowledgeable about coffee. And, the interior is mean to be super sleek and designed following Scandinavian standards, meaning it's definitely a calming aesthetic for studying.
Heritage Bicycles General Store, Chicago IL
If you go to: Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago, University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, Depaul University, etc
What to order: Cold Brew, Chocolate Ganache Mocha, Quiche, Blueberry Corn Muffin
Why it's cool: It's a coffee shop AND a bike store. They apparently have great wifi, and super long communal tables for working and socializing. On a nice day, you can enjoy their patio and look out onto the Lincoln Park neighborhood. As per Yelp reviews, the staff is supposedly exceptionally nice.
Paramount Coffee Project, Los Angeles CA
If you go to: UCLA, USC, Cal State LA, Loyola Marymount University, Occidental College, etc
What to get: Avocado or vegemite toast, Espresso, bubble & squeak hash.
Why it's cool: Apparently it feels just like a slice of Melbourne Australia. The coffee is great, with the food being even better. The staff is friendly, the light inside is awesome, and they have a huge and beautiful patio. Also, the owner and head Aussie hip hop aficionado is known to hang around the store and have a good chat with customers.
Culture Espresso, New York NY
If you go to: New York University, Columbia University, Barnard College, Fordham University, Pratt Institute, The New School, or FIT
What to order: The chocolate chip cookie, brewed coffee, espresso (the name, duh)
Why it's cool: Good lighting and free wifi (a good thing in NYC), with a super relaxed vibe and an amazing street view. It's on a side street so it has a really calm atmosphere. Also, if you're not feeling like a coffee, they have an awesome selection of speciality teas that you won't be able to find in most shops around town.