St Andrews vs William and Mary: Cafes

Alyssa Skvarla
Friday 22 February 2019

A university campus can hardly exist without a café or two or ten. Whether your liquid fuel is a black Americano or a spiced chai latte or whatever concoction you pressure baristas with, students and staff rely on caffeine to get them through the day. That hardly changes whatever campus you set foot on, but to tie St Andrews back to William & Mary in typical Joint Degree fashion, we have a compare and contrast of the most popular locations to find your caffeine fix to survive the term at the respective universities.

Both universities have cafés incorporated into their libraries. Swem has the spot lovingly endeared as Swemromas (Swem+Aromas, basic linguistic math) while St Andrews’ library has Café Edge. These two are quite different hotspots for students but serve the same purpose. Where Café Edge is a self-service spot, with a machine pumping out satisfying drinks, Swemromas is a more traditional-style café with baristas taking your order and running it down the line. Both cater to mentally exhausted students, stimulating them so they can finish that 40-page reading or 4000-word essay. Though packed into the front of the library, they both are vital places on campus. What makes Café Edge especially standout across the board of St Andrews’ cafes is their prices. While there was a jump this past year, prices are still remarkably low for the town; an Americano is £1.10 and a cappuccino is £1.30. You even get a price reduction if you bring your reusable cup! It’s definitely one of the cheapest places in town to snag a coffee.

Another university affiliated coffee-shop at St Andrews is Rector’s. With its large windows, it’s the perfect place to sit on a sunny day. Conversely, it’s a great refuge whenever the weather takes a turn (as it often does) and can be quite serene when covered in raindrops. Additionally, I think they have the best chai lattes in town, but this is a personal opinion, of course. [Inside of Rector’s pictured on the right].

However, what is a universal truth of university spaces is the presence of Starbucks. An omnipresent brand in university settings, it’s no surprise there is a Starbucks local to St Andrews and William & Mary. William & Mary’s version of the chain is inside the Integrated Science Center (ISC), a modern building with a sleek design. ISC is a great study spot, further enhanced by its accessibility to a coffee-shop. St Andrews’ Starbucks is along Market Street, which makes it feel a little more detached from the university hub. Students can still be found studying here with the familiar Starbucks cups in reach, but, as an insider’s confession, Starbucks is the most overrated café accessible in St Andrews. As this post reveals, there a handful of other cafes to try out, many of which are unique to St Andrews!

To combat the norm of Starbucks, William & Mary presents an unconventional option for coffee breaks. Wawa is another chain, but instead of specializing in coffee, it’s a convenience store and gas station. Right by campus, Williamsburg’s local Wawa is a pilgrimage site for most students. With its 24/7 service, it attracts students at all hours for whatever they’re craving. What I would often come for is their coffee, which is both cheap and delicious. Just as important, though, is Wawa’s atmosphere and the sense of community it forges between its compact walls and aisles. [Inside of Wawa pictured on the left].

Beyond these, the options for cafes on or close to campus for William & Mary students dwindles. Meanwhile, St Andrews has a handful of other options; there’s the wee Old Union Café, comfortably situated between the library and St Salvator’s Quad; or Pret a Manger, another chain but with better coffee and prices than Starbucks; and we can’t forget about the chic and cozy Taste up on North Street, with its limited seating but trendy vibes. And there’s even more!

As such, it appears that St Andrews provides a lot more options to students, but that comes from the fact the university is incorporated into the town itself. These places are accessible not only to students but locals and tourists as well, welcoming them with the promise of a warm cuppa after walking the cobblestone streets in whatever temperate weather is thrown in their face. Historic Colonial Williamsburg, which borders William & Mary’s campus can offer more options to students, and if one has access to transportation to New Town, there is another wave of coffee-shops for students to pick from. It’s all about proximity and accessibility for the sake of students who may be pressed with their timetables and finances.

All in all though, both universities are more than sufficiently sourced in caffeine production. It might be part of the reason why their students are so productive and successful in their academics and extra-curriculars



You can find details of all university-affiliated cafes (for St Andrews) through St Andrews’ webpage

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