Uni coffee and recommendations

Bec Meier is a Unimelb Adventures contributor. You can check more of her work on https://howtolife01.wordpress.com/

It goes without saying that a student without caffeine is like a phone without charge; we need it to function. More than that, as uni students we very easily fall into the ‘broke and tired’ category. It’s the trope we all embrace, if somewhat reluctantly. It’s for this reason we need good strong coffee at cheap prices. Because let’s face it, we’re not fully functioning humans, we’re just trying not to fall asleep in 9am lectures.

Obviously, I like the coffee from the places listed here, but I’m going to give you my pros and cons for five of my regular go-to cafes on campus. From my knowledge and with some input from friends, here are my top cafes (in no particular order):

Top Tip: if you take a KeepCup you will almost definitely get a discount off your coffee.

Castro’s Kiosk

Located opposite MSD

Pros

  • Big menu: there’s lots of food and drink options, so there’s something on the menu for everyone, with savoury and sweet food selections and flavoured syrups to add to drinks (much like Starbucks).
  • Good sizes: three size options, and while the small and medium are pretty standard, the large is massive.
  • Student discounts: you can get 10 percent off with an SSS membership (Science Student Society, which anyone can join – check out their Facebook to find out how) which makes the prices pretty reasonable.
  • Loyalty cards: you can get loyalty cards that don’t expire, and build up to some fair rewards.

Cons

  • Pre-prepared food: the food is all made in advance and there’s no customising if you don’t like exactly what they have.
  • Coffee price relativity: for (some of the more unique) drinks it may be a bit pricey (up to $5 for a large) with other cafes offering better prices for similar sizes (and arguably better hot chocolates).
  • How big is too big?: the large is actually massive, as a small person it had too much caffeine for me and I was shaking for hours after drinking it.
  • Loyalty vs discount: you can’t use a loyalty card and discount card on the same order, though this is totally fair and understandable.
  • Waiting time: this is a popular, well known spot near close to lots of people so it can be pretty crowded and take a while to get orders, especially around early morning or lunch time.

House of Cards Espresso

Located on Engineering Lane

Pros

  • Decent menu: standard coffee menu with the option of fresh juice and some unusual fizzy drink options.
  • Food variety: for a small cafe stand they have a handful of sandwiches, wraps, croissants, and sweet pastries all listed on their menu.
  • Good sizes: the coffee cup sizes are pretty standard, with a regular and large option.
  • Soy milk: they use Vitasoy, which in my opinion is the best soy milk you can get.
  • Unique concept: they hand out cards to identify orders, these cards also help you support a cause by placing your card into one of four cause-box slots. They will then donate to the highest voted one at the end of the month.

Cons

  • Pre-prepared food: given the small location it is likely that if what you want from the menu isn’t in the glass display they don’t have it. (NOTE I don’t know this for certain and it’s worth asking.)
  • Coffee price relativity: for the size it’s definitely pricey with other cafes offering better prices for the same drink ($3.80 for a regular latte, upgrade to a large is an extra 60c).
  • Outdoors: if the weather takes a turn for the worse, there is minimal cover while ordering, though the tables have umbrellas over them.

Standing Room

Located in MSD
Located in Union House

Pros

  • Decent menu: standard coffee menu with the option of iced alternatives.
  • Waiting time: despite being popular coffee stops, there is rarely a long wait to get your order, with the acknowledgement that peak times will be busier.
  • Alternative location: the Union House cafe (oddly) close by and is also usually less busy so if it seems like a long queue at MSD it might be worth going to the other.

Cons

  • Drink sizes: they only offer regular and large, both of which are smaller than the standard at most other cafes on campus.
  • Coffee price relativity: for the smaller cup sizes it may be a bit pricey with other cafes offering better prices for a slightly larger cup size ($4 for a regular latte, upgrade to a large is an extra 50c).
  • Limited menu: compared to some other menus the coffee and food options here are very limited to standard coffee and pastries to go (but you can order muesli, bagels or toasties).
  • Seating arrangement: as per their name, these cafes have no seating area (Union House has tables but they’re communal and rarely empty).

Carte Crêpes

Located on south of South Lawn

Pros

  • Decent menu: standard coffee menu with the option of iced alternatives, fresh juice, and T2 tea.
  • Better sizes: the coffee cup sizes are probably a bit larger than standard, with a regular and large option.
  • Soy milk: they also use Vitasoy, so another great place for dairy free coffees.
  • Crepes: the only food they offer are delicious, made-to-order crepes from a large menu variety.
  • Free crepe: after your exams are complete at the end of a term, you can take your exam timetable to them and they’ll give you a free crepe (from a limited list).
  • Coffee price relativity: cheaper than most uni cafes ($3.60 for a regular latte, upgrade to a large is an extra 40c).
  • Student discounts: you can get 15% off with a M-ASS membership (Melbourne Arts Student Society, which anyone can join – check out their Facebook to find out how).

Cons

  • Outdoors: if the weather takes a turn for the worse, there is no cover while ordering, though the benches have umbrellas over them.
  • Savoury crepes: obviously the only food they have is crepes, plus there is only one savoury option listed (though you can customise your own).
  • Food prices: some of the crepes can be quite pricey depending on the fillings.

Refuel Cafe

Located in Kwong Lee Dow Building

Pros

  • Decent menu: standard coffee menu with extra additions, options of iced alternatives, milkshakes, and tea.
  • Food variety: they have lots of options with sandwiches, hot food, yoghurt, fruit, and sweet treats.
  • Coffee price relativity: cheaper than some of the other uni cafes listed here ($3.70 for a regular latte, upgrade to a large is an extra 50c).
  • Seating arrangement: plenty of tables, chairs, and booths nearby for people to sit and chill while waiting or enjoying their order.
  • Good sizes: three size options and while the small and medium are pretty standard, there is also a jumbo option.

Cons

  • Distant location: located in the Graduate School of Education on Queensberry St, this cafe is quite far from main campus.
  • Pre-prepared food: the food is all made in advance and there’s no customising if you don’t like exactly what they have.

So there they are. Five cafes and why you should (or maybe shouldn’t) give them a try.

Go forth and drink coffee my sleep-deprived friends!

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