By Hayden Kulick & Maria Odenbaugh
Coffee keeps students going.
Riverside isn’t the most populated place in California but when it comes to coffee, there is a lot to choose from. We went on a mission to find ideal coffee shops in the city for students.
We visited four local places: Arcade Coffee, Lift Coffee Roasters, Condron Coffee and Coffee Court Bistro. Our search focused on finding a practical study environment while grinding some good beans.
A perfect balance of ambiance, quality coffee and livelihood is what creates a good shop.
At each shop we ordered and tested our taste buds with a cold brew with oat milk and the most interesting, unique beverage. We rated every shop with a score out of 10.
First stop on the mission is Arcade Coffee Roasters located on Canyon Crest Drive. When walking in you’re immediately met with a trendy, Instagram worthy atmosphere. The coffee shop is bright, multiple tables are available and a latte can even be delivered to your table. This cafe has lots of space to welcome students while they study or enjoy lunch.
Although the feeling of the environment is right for the perfect study session, the coffee did not match. The cold brew lacked an intense flavor, that of course depending on the consumer, is essential. The oat milk also failed to cut the cold brew to an enjoyable flavor, so it tasted watered down.
The latte with their butterscotch syrup also suffered the same faults as the cold brew. The coffee itself had a powerful taste but the butterscotch flavor was lacking.
Arcade gets an overall score of 6 out of 10, definitely a place to visit to upgrade our Instagram stories.
Located a little closer to downtown Riverside, Lift Coffee Roasters is a garage style, back house building which makes the environment a quiet and excluded one. Lift is also a smaller shop compared to the rest, however, it still has plenty of seating. The dim lighting, the low jazz music in the background and its overall quiet personality make it an almost ideal place to study. The quiet nature of the establishment does make it a bit awkward to talk.
The coffee was pretty close to perfect. The Spicy Spanish is a drink that is definitely worth trying. Most coffee shops don’t offer any drink with a spice that’s not cinnamon, but this drink was different. The drink tastes like coffee mixed with the flavor of Abuelita hot chocolate. The cold brew had an overwhelming intensity that could have used more oatmilk. Lift’s cold brew failed to live up to its name. The ice melted quickly, killing the cold brew experience completely. Other than that, Lift Coffee Roasters cold brew was perfectly tasty.
Lift is an authentic coffee shop that doubles as a great place to study. Overall it gets an 8 out of 10.
Condron Coffee is in a more popular location as opposed to the last two in the Riverside Plaza. The prime location mixed with an overall fun atmosphere make for a great experience when you walk through the front door. Aside from a great location, the staff was stellar. They were each friendly and eager to talk about coffee. The environment of the place does not interfere with the ability to study there, upon walking in you will notice that the tables are filled with students.
The butter pecan latte is as good as it sounds. After a nice layer of froth, the buttery sweetness breaks through and is delicious. While the sweetness is the focal point of the drink, it is not overly sweet. On top of the flavor of the drink itself, this shop did an excellent job of executing what a latte should look like.
Condron Coffee cold brew was ordinary, but still tasty. It was ordinary due to no reachable flavor to pinpoint. The drink was still enjoyable and easy to finish.
Overall, Condron Coffee gets a 10 out of 10.
The last stop on our coffee shop expedition was Coffee Court Bistro. Coffee Court Bistro is the closest shop to RCC and located right next to the Superior Court of California, County of Riverside. This cafe has a distinct, old style atmosphere. The seating area was a favorite because it wasn’t uniform and full of colorful oak seats. Yet there weren’t any students diving into their textbooks. The body of the cafe doesn’t support a good study session.
Unfortunately, when we decided to visit this coffee shop, they were closing and couldn’t order the usual cold brew. An iced americano did the job, a great job. The iced beverage had an intense strong flavor and the oat milk had the smoothest effect that no other location we tried could compare to. The bistro is also under new ownership and has new opportunities for the community to come together.
The Coffee Court Bistro is a community cafe with awesome style, flavorful coffee and earns a score of 7 out of 10.
After trying four independent coffee shops in Riverside, this is our overall ranking from unfavorable, to the best experience for students: Arcade Coffee, Lift Coffee Roasters, Coffee Court Bistro and Condron Coffee.
Our advice to other students, go to Condron Coffee for the best coffee, best atmosphere and best space to study. The welcoming and easily approachable staff makes it hard not to give this shop first choice on our list.