The Black Book for Studying at Coffee Shops in Singapore (Pandemic Edition)

It is no secret that students love to study in cafés. Theo Lee, a senior at SAS, says that he avoids the comfort of his home as it hinders his productivity. Many of us can relate to this sentiment.

Unfortunately, it has been increasingly difficult to find a study spot out of the house. With finals week drawing near, the coffee supply is starting to dwindle and motivation is at an all time low. Even worse, coffee shops all over Singapore have stopped allowing their desperate students to sit and study due to pandemic restrictions that haven’t been lifted for some of our favorite cafes. 

That being said, here is the Black Book of coffee shops around Singapore that are still open to welcoming you and housing you for the many hours you need out of the home to study. All you need to do is buy a drink or two and you can have a little staycation in these coffee shops. Accompanied with addresses, as well as some food recommendations, this secret list will certainly fulfill all of your study needs.

A classic Starbucks with brown leather sofa seats and a wall made entirely out of glass. (Photo from Starbucks via Facebook)

A HIDDEN STARBUCKS–ONE I HAVEN’T SEEN ANOTHER SAS STUDENT AT.

Located at 180 Kitchener Road, this is a hidden Starbucks–one I haven’t seen another SAS student at. The staff are friendly and because of its unique ‘L’ shaped architectural structure, with the tables lying behind the barista counter, you could sit there for hours without anyone chasing you out. There are charging outlets at every sofa seat and a wall made entirely out of glass, which allows for the natural sunlight to shine through. Order an iced latte, maybe add on a chicken and spinach wrap, and enjoy this paradise on Earth.

The Starbucks at Liat Towers is Singapore’s first Starbucks, when it opened in 1996 as the second international branch outside the US (Photo from Starbucks via Facebook)

Many SAS students flock to this Starbucks, located right next to the large ZARA in Orchard. You can leave your earbuds at home, as the music here is always really good. I frequent this Starbucks with my study group and we have found a nice home at the four-seater table furthest from the entrance. Seniors Amaryllis Ng and Andrew Sung say that they enjoy studying outside as they experience the audience effect (a type of social phenomenon in which an individual’s performance is influenced by the presence of others) and are less distracted here.

The only drawback is that there are no nearby bathrooms, so you would have to leave your seat and walk a bit to find a bathroom in one of the nearby malls. I find that taking a short walk outside is refreshing after a few hours of studying, so I don’t mind it as much. This Starbucks is crowded, so be sure to wake up bright and early to catch a good seat by the charging outlets.

Baker & Cook has great treats which are perfect for fueling your study session! (Photo from Baker & Cook via Facebook)

Sitting idly in Holland Village, 44 Jalan Merah Saga, this coffee shop is a little study vacation that differs from usual study spots. Baker & Cook have wonderful cakes and treats, so you’re looking for a new place to study, or a snack to grab, this is definitely the spot to go. Try out their savoury tarts or their chocolate truffle donut if you have a sweet tooth that day. They have a wonderful selection of beverages, so you won’t run out of new drinks to try. Find a table, ask for the wifi password (politely), and get comfortable!

A place with great lighting for peak productivity. (Photo from Muji)

MUJI is always a nice place to shop at. Now, it has expanded to let its customers dine and study at its Plaza Singapura location. With the aesthetic furniture and warm lighting, the ambience is perfect for a study session. You can order one of their deli sets, which all come with a bowl of rice and hot miso soup. The MUJI staff are welcoming, so you don’t have to be worried about being chased out once your meal is finished. If you aren’t bothered by noise and bustle, this is a great place to work.

Definitely not your typical Starbucks on Orchard Road. (Photo from TheSmartLocal)

Located in Rochester park, surrounded by greenery, this two-storey Starbucks provides tables and charging stations isolated from the rest of city Singapore. It presents a vintage colonial exterior, accompanied with stylish brown sofa seats and paintings inside. Senior Mayuko Kobayashi says that she appreciates the greenery and cozy ambience of this Starbucks as it helps her get through her college applications. The staff are great here and would take good care of you. You can study outside, or head up to the second floor and sit by the windows. Be ready to use your hotspot though, as wifi is volatile out in this wilderness. In order to avoid the signature Singapore humidity or mosquito bites, many people seek to study inside and avoid the tables out in the open. A tip would be to go during non peak hours in order to snag a comfortable sofa seat inside this charming Starbucks. 

On the other hand, there are some places I would avoid studying at. I’ve tried studying at restaurants and dining spaces such as Paris Baguette at Wisma Atria but found that I still preferred studying in coffee shops. Afterall, these are spots for customers to dine and there is no wifi provided at a lot of these locations.

Another spot I wouldn’t go to is the airport. The various coffee shops and couches at Changi airport used to common spaces for students all over Singapore to study, but due to the pandemic, it is advisable to avoid studying here for now. People flying in will be trying to get to their destinations for their two week quarantine and it’s best to maintain safe distances for everyone’s safety. 

THERE ARE CERTAIN ETIQUETTES AND UNSPOKEN RULES WHEN STUDYING IN COFFEE SHOPS DURING THE PANDEMIC.

Keep in mind that there is a set of etiquette and unspoken rules when studying in coffee shops during the pandemic. Once you’ve finished your food, please put your mask back on! It helps everyone else around you feel safer and leads to a more productive studying environment. Another thing to note is that unless you’re studying with friends, make sure you find one or two-seater tables. Coffee shops have had to limit their seatings and it would be inconvenient for them and other customers if one person has taken a four-seater table. 

With these new options in mind, put on your mask, pack your laptop and chargers, and get out to study! Be it writing college applications for seniors or preparing for summative assessments, these cafés will feel like home once you become a regular customer.

Author: Emilie Young

Emilie Young is a senior at Singapore American School and this is her first year working with The Eye and Studio41. Born and raised in Tokyo, with parents from New York and Singapore, Emilie finds that home is wherever her family is. Currently living in Singapore, some of her passions include finding good cafés around the island, playing Othello with her Mom, and engaging in discussions that can range anywhere from debating politics to geeking out over indie music. You can contact her at young49444@sas.edu.sg

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