When you sign up for the MMS program, you sign up for 10 months of a life-changing experience. A part of that experience entails some long nights and some intense academic work. But burning the midnight oil doesn’t have to be boring, and neither do your study sessions. As someone who needs a cup of coffee to get the day started and loves the sounds of a café when studying or catching up with friends, coffee shops are my favorite way to get a read on a city. Durham does not disappoint and has so many unique, local coffee spots to offer (in addition to Starbucks!).

The gems listed below are fantastic spots for catching up with friends, and even the grind of finals week.

1. Guglhupf – Artisan Bakery, Café, and Biergarten

This garden wonderland is a beautiful brunch spot by day, and biergarten by night. Nevertheless, you can count on some great coffee and bakes at any time of the day. I’d highly recommend trying the blackboard specials, and some delectable German sweet treats. They also have a wonderful shop full of local products to browse (including cheese, meats, butter, and meads, to name a few). I’ve never left empty-handed and have never been disappointed by a purchase!

2. Cocoa Cinnamon

This beloved café is a Durham staple, and has three locations around town, each unique both in terms of décor and menu. They are known for their fantastic coffee, and innovative recipes, so it’s wise to try the barista recommendation and/or seasonal blend. Similar to Guglhupf, Cocoa Cinnamon also stocks amazing local products and merch as well, so you can carry a little piece of the café home with you.

3. Foster Street Coffee

Sandwiched between Dame’s Chicken & Waffles and the Durham Food Hall, this cute co-working spot is perfectly located for you to get through all three meals for the day. As you might have gathered from the theme of this post, the coffee is wonderful, as is the food. It’s the perfect cozy corner to get lost in conversation, a book, or work, so be prepared to want to stick around for hours. (Perks include free Wi-Fi and ample power outlets!)

4. Press Coffee, Crêpes & Cocktails

Press is definitely one of the hottest brunch spots in town, famous for the items listed in its name. Go sweet or savory, and neither will disappoint. There is a long wait given how popular the café is, so get there a little early to put your name in line for a table. While you wait, you could explore the American Tobacco Campus, and some of the nearby shops downtown. Building up an appetite for Press is a good idea, especially since the food is rich and delectable.

5. Mad Hatters Café + Bakeshop

This artsy bakeshop located close to Duke’s East Campus is a fantastic place to grab breakfast and a “cuppa joe”. Another spot that’s conducive to both working and socializing, you can choose between the cozy indoor nooks, or the lovely outdoor tables when the weather is good. The cheesecake brownie is a must-try, as are the vanilla lattes. The café also showcases local artists’ collections, so don’t forget to stop, and admire the works in detail. It adds wonderful character to the ambiance and shouldn’t be missed!