By Cat Clinton

Coffee is an addictive substance many people refuse to start the day without. The caffeine buzz often creates a rush of energy some claim causes an increase in productivity and a positive mood. It can be common for college students to live a lifestyle with multiple outside obligations and difficult study habits. This makes it no surprise Tuscaloosa, home to The University of Alabama’s campus, has an abundance of downtown coffee shop locations for college students to choose from. 

The first on the list is Heritage House, located on Jack Warner Parkway, just between the riverwalk and the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa. The main room is surrounded by large windows and minimal decor giving the atmosphere an open and inviting feel. White and light neutrals are the color scheme, making the atmosphere feel clean and spacious. 

Leah Landry is a freshman psychology major at The University of Alabama and barista at Heritage House. 

“The Honey and Lavender Latte is my favorite. I’ve had a friend say it smells like soap before, but I love it,” Landry said.

While it’s still up for debate whether this drink tastes as good as it smells, this is the perfect option to add to any caffeine-dependent college student’s must-try list.

Olivia Phillips, a senior dance major at The University of Alabama and fellow barista at Heritage House, had an alternative preference, instead , she enjoys iced raspberry and vanilla lattes.

Whether in the mood for a fruity blend or warm earthy taste, Heritage House offers a variety of options and suggestions. 

Another destination perfect for a quick coffee or tea pick-me-up is Turbo Coffee, located just beyond the 8th Street roundabout. Owned by The University of Alabama Alumnus Reese Shirly, this industrial and modern-styled location is the second of its kind. It’s described as natural and efficient with employees more than willing to provide first-time customers with a recommendation.

Madelaine Garrett, a junior kinesiology major at The University of Alabama and barista at Turbo Cafe, said, “I like a half vanilla and half mocha iced cappuccino with macadamia nut milk. That, or the brown sugar maple cinnamon latte.”

The ability for drink personalization is available, but if this option does not sound appealing and guidance is requested, the crowd favorite “Moto Mocha” is always a popular and available recommendation. This drink consists of a cold brew made with chocolate milk and chocolate syrup. If the caffeine does not wake the drinker up, the sugar should do it.

Another fun location for any caffeine-related need is Monarch Espresso Bar. Located on 22nd Avenue, this rustic setting is lined with exposed brick and can be categorized as a calming and inclusive environment. Merchandise is available for purchase adjacent to the front entrance, and there are multiple study tables and sizes available for working alone or with a group.

“My favorite drink is the Bourbon Pecan Cortado. It’s sweet and strong, taken like a shot,” said Marion Mann, a barista at Monarch Espresso Bar.

Last on the list is a personal favorite and local gem, 5 Java. This setting is located on 6th Street and features eclectic furniture and warm lighting, making the comfortable and colorful environment similar to being in the home of an artist. 

“Java is what I think all coffee shops should be,” Evy Gallagher, a junior news media major at The University of Alabama, Alice Magazine’s Food and Health Editor and part-time barista at 5 Java, said. “[5 Java is] a charming, cozy and quirky spot that plays great music and serves even better coffee.”.

This location serves more than just a positive vibe and killer playlists, the coffee is also highly reviewed. This venue offers limited time drink features during holidays, making the drink recommendations difficult. Employee favorites are always changing. 

“During the month of February, I really enjoy the Cupid Shuffle. That is our limited time white chocolate and raspberry latte,” Kristin Gentine, Tuscaloosa resident and 5 Java barista, said. 

Although matching environments to personal goals can be important, so is having the options to choose from. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter where it comes from, as long as there is a cup of coffee available for every overworked and under-slept student.