It’s early fall in Seattle. The air’s chiller. School’s in session. You’re feeling confident. Then you remember the essay. It’s due at 11:59 pm tonight. It’s 10 am and the motivation is not there. It would help if you had a change of scenery.
Reader, I’m cramming with you. My goal was to send this to my editor by 6:30 pm. The first word I wrote happened at 10:09 am. How did I pull off this endgame final draft? By swapping up my writing spots. (The white noise helps me focus.)
That said, post-2020, finding places with the right vibes for a cram or study session has been rough. Lots of places now shut down earlier than they used to—or they just shut down permanently. But I’m here to help you out. Here’s a big updated list of spots on Capitol Hill where the words will flow and time will fly.
Top Pot Doughnuts
609 Summit Ave E
Damn fine coffee and donuts are what you’ll find at Top Pot Doughnuts. Located on Summit Ave E and open every day from 7 am to 5 pm, this Seattle staple is only a five-minute walk away from Broadway. It’s got that neighborhood local coffee shop feel of long ago. They’ve lined the cafe space with walls of antique books and gorgeous maple wood that will put you in a studious headspace. Grab an Old Fashioned Pumpkin donut, a 12 oz drip, and do that peer review!
Fair warning: There are only a few power outlets in the dining room, with some hidden under the book shelving. You might have to get on all fours to plug your laptop in. If that scares you, maybe precharge at home. But the baristas are super nice! They’re genuinely friendly and supportive and make me feel more productive. The space is small, but tables open up frequently, with outdoor seating also an option. As for music, you could expect to hear early to mid-2010s pop pleasures. Artists like Katy Perry or Jessie J.
If you work in tech and often need a location that can accommodate a team of 15 people and all their dogs, you’ve been to Optimism Brewing. A 16,000-square feet industrial space used primarily as a group hangout spot works surprisingly well for work-from-homies and students alike. (“The Brewery is open to people of all ages, however only our guests that are 21 years of age or older may consume our beers,” says Optimism.) It’s open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, 11 pm on Mondays through Thursdays, and 9 pm on Sundays.
Alcohol and homework? How does that work, you ask? Well, I decided to go with Gold Crush, the Golden Session Ale with an ABV of 4.1%. If you prefer not to drink (I did get a little silly after), sparkling water and the housemade lemonade are waiting for you.
Power outlets are available on four wood posts in the center of the warehouse. Posts by the play area have tables nearby and are most accessible for charging. The day crowd is less than any coffee shop could ever rep, but things start picking up around 4 pm. (I was there at 12:30 pm and only four of us were there! The music was giving country, 2010s folk-pop, and ’70/’80s hits. It’s a little all over the place, but Fleetwood Mac and Tears for Fears make an appearance, so no complaints from me!)
Maybe it was the beer, but I did the most work here out of all the spots on this list!
Inside Good Weather Bicycles, 1424 11th Ave
Tailwind Cafe is a comfy little coffee shop run out of Good Weather Bicycle & Cafe. The hideout is an indoor/outdoor space that creates one of the most chill environments in the city. Placed between restaurants like Plum Bistro and Light Sleeper, you’ll get the softest ambient cafe noise you’ve ever experienced. I’m hyping it up but trust me! They’ve got food, and I had The Good Sandwich with sweet potatoes, English cheddar, and a few Mama Lil’s peppers. It put me in a pleasant fall mood and exhilarated me for the semester. Did I mention you can do your required reading by the fire pit? Yes, a fire pit! We haven’t had options like this since 2019! I sincerely believe this is the ultimate study spot. WiFi, outdoor outlets, cozy bistro chairs—a 10/10 experience for me.
Bonus: They’re open later than most coffee shops in the neighborhood, until 9 pm on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
1424 11th Ave
Not enough people explore all of Chophouse Row. A mix of retail, restaurants, and quaint specialty stores, the mixed space has a bit of everything. The alley also has an outdoor patio open to anyone who finds it. WiFi is public and available just for you. Some seating is reserved for specific businesses and bathrooms are reserved for paying customers, but it’s nothing a bacon, egg, and cheese sammy from Tailwind can’t help. Knock that assigned reading out of the way with cheese boba toast from Meetea Cafe. Finish up early? Reward yourself with a scoop of Thai iced tea ice cream from Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery.
I’ll admit, the clientele of Chophouse Row is a bit bougie. I would take this moment to romanticize your life a little. Get your playlist going and bring that cute autumn fit out from hibernation to set the scene. Pretend you’re going to have your meet-cute with the charming and misunderstood trust fund kid who can’t help but be enchanted by you. Let’s get this bag and degree by any means necessary y’all!
Yes! You can study at Whole Foods! Why would you want to do that? Well, the seating area is open until 9 pm, which is pretty good these days! You’ll need to buy something to get the access code to bathrooms, but with open WiFi, you could essentially get a free public study experience. There are a ton of outlets, and though the main seating area can fill up quickly during the day, counter space is often abundant. The music is grocery store adult contemporary, but with a pair of headphones, you can turn this into your own 2022 Bumbershoot. Grab some samosas from the hot bar, people-watch, and get your shit done.
1416 10th Ave
Drip Tea is the designated cool boba of Capitol Hill. You’ve seen those cute lil’ bear bottles, but have you studied there? It can get pretty busy, especially later in the night (it’s open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 9 pm all the other days), but if you secure a table before 7 pm, you’re kinda set. Get the last of your editing done here and use your bearyaki ube soft serve to motivate you to the finish line.
There aren’t many outlets throughout the store, so position yourself on the corner seating to find the good ones. The music is nice R&B. Expect to hear the likes of Joji and SZA. The workers are funny, and, as a fellow service worker, it was nice seeing them have fun together. It made me want to bring my friends here on a silly, goofy study date.
SOME OTHER SPOTS TO TRY 📚
📍Seattle Public Library – Capitol Hill Branch: 425 Harvard Ave E
📍Kaladi Brothers Coffee: 517 E Pike St Ste C
📍 Ada’s Technical Cafe: 425 15th Ave E
📍 Victrola: 310 E Pike St + 411 15th Ave E
📍 Bounty Kitchen: 550 19th Ave E
📍 Bobabucha: 1424 E Pine St