So, it's finals week and you need to get some work done, but how can you get anything done when your best friend, Netflix, is calling your name? You simply can’t, so venture out. There’s always your local Starbucks or Panera, but why not try a coffee house or bakery with a little character? Northern New Jersey is home to some great spots to help you get on your work “grind” without sacrificing on comfort, most with free Wi-Fi, and all with the most important feature: caffeine readily on tap.
The Fine Grind
Speaking of grind, North Jersey favorite The Fine Grind offers ample space for you to spread out with a computer or notebook. The shop's dining and coffee menu is not only extensive, but extremely intriguing, from its pages of coffee concoctions to the quiches of the day. Feel free to order some food or a drink and park it all right next to your laptop. When you’re done with your soup-bowl-sized coffee mug, move on over to one of the couches for some chocolate fondue with your study group.
Hailing from the motherland of coffee—Italy—Antonio Caré and Elisabetta Febbraro recently moved to Hackensack and opened Coffee Break in late 2015. Have you out-studied yourself and desperately need a vacation? Simply visit this little slice of Europe in Hackensack: the pair not only imports food and recipes from Italy, but they can pull the best espresso shot in the area. Still in need of hitting the books? Plop a textbook under one of the coolest lamps we've ever seen: a cup suspended in air, pouring "coffee" onto the table. Revered for their croissants (the nutella and pistachio are to die for), pop into CB to start your day or reward yourself with a sweet treat after aceing that test.
9 Bar Café
Owned and operated by Rome-native Stefania Cocozza, 9 Bar Café has over 20 years in the coffee business behind it. The clever name of the café references the amount of pressure (a 9-Bar) required to pull a perfect espresso shot (yep, they mean business here). We know you're probably looking to escape anything school-related, but this shop offers monthly coffee education classes we think anyone would enjoy. Recharge with a cold brew before diving into the books, and only the books: this spot does not offer Wifi, but we love their explanation: they'd rather see folks talking to each other (study group time!), or taking a minute to themselves with a drink.
The Able Baker
Featured in The New York Times, the Able Baker was started by owner Julie Pauly and her husband, who both lost their jobs in Manhattan at the end of 2008. The Pauly’s rose back up with a little bit of tenacity, love, and support from tons of friends who loved Julie’s baking. Located in the heart of Maplewood, you’ll come for the food and stay for the lovely atmosphere (cute drawings on the wall, bright, open space, slow tunes playing in the background) and surrounding neighborhood. In a recent interview with The Village Green, Pauly reassures us as to why this shop makes its way onto this list of the best coffee shops to study in North Jersey: "Having people in the place brings an energy that attracts other customers, so I never discourage lingerers. We have free wifi and don’t limit how long people stay. If we get crowded, I’ll ask people working on laptops to share a table, or free up a chair by putting away their briefcase."
bwé kafe, which means "drink coffee" in Haitian Creole, according to the shop's website, works with La Colombe Torrefaction to deliver the highest quality beans into your little old cup in Hoboken. With each mug individually poured over to perfection, patience isn’t just a virtue at bwé, it’s ambrosial. The communal seating is perfect for small groups to work on a project, however there are smaller tables if you're flying solo. Check the café's Facebook page for event information, like open mics!
Van Gogh's Ear
Art History majors will surely appreciate the "Starry Night" mural on one of the front walls of this spacious shop, as well as the Van Gogh references throughout the menu. Make yourself at home in one of the many seating options, from squishy couches to high-tops to Victorian-esque chairs. They say classical music as a backdrop for studying or doing homework actually helps; we'll vouch for Jazz as well: on Sunday nights a live jazz or blues band plays from 8 p.m. to 11p.m.