Top 5 Queens Cafe Study Nooks

Top Five Study CafesBy Chase Collum

If right now you search for places to study in New York City, you’re likely to find a bunch of ambiguous lists of ideal theoretical study environments including a few museums and libraries along with a handful of trendy Manhattan venues.

Here, I want to give you five intimate venues that I’ve found conducive to productive studying in Queens as someone who often finds myself in need of a quiet place to dip into and grind out a think piece. Combining the general knowledge of the Internet with my own visitations, I was able to suss out a few choice locations for study sessions long and short, group and solo.

The criteria I used to assemble this list were simple.

First, there had to be plenty of room to spread out. Sure, those quaint little tabletops at the stylish local joint around the corner are great for the iPad learner, but us old school, big book-carrying, five ring binder-having students out here in Queens need our space.

Strong wifi signal throughout was also essential. By that, I mean it has to work even when business is good and traffic is heavy.

Next, I took into consideration the need for a positive sound environment. Studying with headphones in is a popular method these days, but pumping music directly into your brain to drown out ambient noise is perhaps even more distracting, according to a study completed in 2010 by the Department of Biology & Health at the Manhattan-based Pace University.

Beyond the music, the overall sound environment of each of these locations was taken into account. One of the most popular places to study has long been the local library branch, or maybe a bookstore. One thing many bookstores and libraries have in common is that they have a pleasing soundscape, relatively free of sharp, high-pitched sounds. That is because most of these institutions – at least the ones suited to studying – are fitted with carpeting and filled with shelves lined with sound absorbant books. So for this list, it seems appropriate to consider the soundscape of the study environment.

Another often overlooked aesthetic must for a good study space is the lighting. This Goldilocksian element is important to get just right; lights that are too bright (or dim) are an unnecessary detractor considering we’ve had the technology to set lighting with dimmers since 1890 (or more recently since Sears stole the design for a modern dimmer from Eugene Alessio and took it to Texas Instruments to mass produce the product for retail – but that’s a story for a different list).

Finally, perhaps the most important criteria of all: The chairs have got to be comfortable. As someone who’s had back problems for nearly a decade I can’t be messing around with metal chairs and unforgiving bench seats, and I don’t think you should have to either. Not with an education at stake.

So without further ado, I give the five best cafe study nooks in Queens.

Sweetleaf#5 Sweetleaf
10-93 Jackson Avenue | LIC

Our first stop is in the Hunter’s Point section of Long Island City, at the 10-93 Jackson Ave. location of Sweetleaf Coffee. For starters, my latte was right on point, and the ham and cheese croissant was everything one might expect. A customer favorite seems to be their Rocket Fuel drink, an iced, cold-brewed coffee drink with chicory, maple syrup and milk. While the cafe is located at the busy intersection of Jackson Avenue and 11th Street on the Queens side of the Pulaski Bridge, the inside of the shop is quiet with a full array of vintage classic vinyl records. The sole table in the seating area is a bit rickety, with chairs fastened to the table’s legs via vintage iron supports, leading to a slight shift every time someone rises or shifts in their seat, but what was at first a bit off-putting took on a gentle rocking nuance as I spent more time in the cafe. Perhaps the highlight of the cafe is its arrangement of leather high and low-backed chairs and a midcentury loveseat, all beige. In the corner sits a classic bust of some philosophy type I’m not familiar with, which adds an air of academia to the otherwise rough and tumble, shabby chic cafe.

Coffeed#4 Coffeed
37-18 Northern Boulevard | LIC

Despite being located along the ever-busy Long Island City stretch of Northern Boulevard, Coffeed is a fairly quiet space to study where you are unlikely to be bothered by the staff for lingering. There are tons of spaces to sit inside, and a few large tables to spread out on, but the highlight of this seating area is the cushy armchair in the corner next to the giant, fedora-clad teddy bear, who makes an excellent study buddy. The wifi is strong in this one, and the tables in the expansive dining area are large enough to spread out on, even with a small group. The full menu is fairly extensive for a coffee shop, with several breakfast and lunch options making it a good place to make a habit of visiting. Personally, I can tell you that the Northern Lox Deluxe is to die for. The baristas are skilled at what they do without being jerks about it. Actually, they’re quite nice.  What’s more, if you get in good with the Brooklyn Grange upstairs, they might even let you stretch your legs between chapters at their rooftop farm where you can get a bit of wind in your face before tilting down another shot of espresso and getting back to work.

Caffebenne#3 Caffebene
158-14 Northern Boulevard | Murray Hill

If you follow Northern Boulevard all the way to Murray Hill in Eastern Queens, you will come upon our next choice study nook. Caffebene is a multi-national coffee chain, which made me think twice about adding it to our list, but at the 158-14 Northern Blvd. franchise location opened by Paul Shin in 2012, I tucked my reservations into the comfortable corner booth for a while and soon found they had dissipated completely. The real highlight of this cafe is its seating area, featuring the aforementioned booth as well as several comfortable cushioned chairs surrounded by smartly stocked wooden bookshelves. The menu is extensive, featuring house-made sandwiches and a full complement of sweets including Belgian waffles and macaroons. If you’re looking for a comfort drink during your winter studies, I recommend the Misugaru Latte. According to Esther Kim, a floor manager at the cafe, it can get pretty crowded on the weekends, but on the weekdays there is plenty of space to post up and study away. In October, Shin plans to open a second location at Union Street near 39th Avenue.

Station Side Cafe#2 Station Side Cafe
164-05 Depot Road | Auberndale

If you find Caffebene is too busy and grandiose for your study tastes, may I recommend you take a short walk to Depot Road where we come upon another worthy study spot in Murray Hill. Even to a first-time visitor like myself, David Lee and Peter Cho were extremely friendly during my  visit to the Station Side Cafe. The two have managed the cafe for the past three months, but the location at 164-05 Depot Rd. in Flushing’s Murray Hill neighborhood has been open for business for almost four years. In that time, it has become a local favorite. Upsides of the space are its comfortable booths encompassed by rustically-stained wooden trellises bedecked with crawling vines, its positive lighting and sound environment, and an abundance of table space. The shop sources its coffee from Lavazza and has a full breakfast and lunch menu to tide you over and keep you caffeinated. As is, Station Side is a worthy study venue, and Lee says the cafe is about to undergo a week-long renovation in early October, during which they plan to add a beer garden into the back yard. So when you’re done studying, you’ll be able to reward yourself with a beer without having to make another stop on the way home.

Cypress Inn Cafe#1 Cypress Inn Cafe
1702 Stanhope Street | Ridgewood

This south central Queens gem is tucked a few blocks into Ridgewood at 1702 Stanhope St. and is a superior cafe in almost every way that matters. Seating and atmosphere are comfortable by design, lighting is ample but not overpowering, music sits at a decent mid-volume shelf and underneath his tattoo sleeves owner Vinny Signorelli is a good kid – his mother told me so herself when she came in for her daily espresso and cookie at 7:30 p.m. sharp. The thing that stuck out to me the most during my visit – even more than the dioramas, family photographs and antique décor, the well-crafted latte and the delicious quiche – was that when I came in there was a woman studying in the cafe,who had been there for several hours. And it didn’t bother Vinny one bit.  The cafe hosts free movie screenings on Wednesday evenings and adds bottomless mimosas to the menu on Sunday to offer a brunchy atmosphere, but during the rest of the week things stay pretty quiet and it becomes what may be the best study cafe in Queens.





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Posted by on Oct 30 2014. Filed under Top 5. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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