The best coffee shops at the University of Illinois

Payton JarzynaPayton Jarzyna is a senior pursuing a dual degree in creative writing and advertising. During the school year she works as a marketing intern for the College of LAS and as a waitress. In her free time you can find her reading thrillers, watching Succession, or shopping for cool necklaces

Sometimes, studying in your room can be impossible, and you need a new environment to focus. Luckily, one of the best parts about living in a college town is that there are plenty of coffee shops to study in.

Whether you’re looking for a sleek modern coffee shop, or a homey Instagrammable café, Champaign-Urbana has it!

Here are some of my favorite coffee shops on campus.

1. Caffe Paradiso

Caffe Paradiso will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a Christmas rom-com. The walls are lined with glowing string lights, and the drinks come in colorful, funky mugs. With its warm design and cozy atmosphere, Caffe Paradiso is the perfect spot for people that want to romanticize their life.

Caffe Paradiso offers a variety of pastries, including a fluffy and sweet strawberry cream croissant. There are also options for lunch, if you want something more filling. You can build your own panini, have a salad, or enjoy one of their soups of the day. Located near Allen Hall and Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall, Caffe Paradiso is the perfect place to warm up during the cold months.

Caffe Paradiso

2. Espresso Royale

There are four Espresso Royale locations on campus, each with its own unique feel; there’s one by the Main Quad on Daniel St., one inside the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF), one in the Grainger Engineering Library, and one across from Krannert.

The Espresso Royale on Daniel St. is a modern and quiet place to study. With a location right across from the Psychology Building, it is perfect for stopping by between LAS classes. It never gets too loud, and there are plenty of places to charge your laptop. If you’re alone, the bar seats are a great place to sit and focus on your homework. If you’re with your friends, the tables give everyone a place to sit.

The Espresso Royale across from Krannert has a much more rustic feel with tile floors and leather chairs. The library location is perfect if you're meeting friends for a study session, and the location in CIF feels very modern, just like the building it is in.

With extensive tea options, Espresso Royale is an awesome option for tea lovers. They offer everything from peppermint tea to Jasmine tea. The iced ginger dragon tea is also a soothing remedy for a cold. If you’re hungry, Espresso Royale offers tons of baked treats and lunch options. They have protein-packed breakfast sandwiches, sweet pumpkin bread, creamy yogurt, delicious bagels, and more. Espresso Royale even offers their own coffee beans to buy.

Espresso Royale

3. Brewlab

Located right off Green Street and with wide windows facing 5th St. and plants everywhere, Brewlab offers a calming environment for studying. There’s even a side room next to the cafeteria that’s ideal for anyone that needs to focus and a whiteboard you can write on, if you’re out of scratch paper.

With plenty of baked goods, Brewlab is great for a post-study reward, or a caffeine-infused incentive to study. The chai lattes are delicious and so are the unique array of croissants. Brewlab offers a sweet and flaky raspberry croissant, a savory spinach croissant, and a mouthwatering chocolate croissant.


Coffee is more than just a drink for college students, it’s a fundamental part of the study routine. If you’re looking for somewhere to sit down and study, apply for jobs, or just focus, check out these coffee shops! And no matter your tastes, you'll be able to find your own favorite at Illinois.

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Payton Jarzyna