Looking for a new place to relax and study? Wishing you didn’t have to pay for coffee? The answer to both questions is closer to campus than you may think.
Enter Catès Café
Located on the corner of 200 South and University Street, the coffee shop is just across the street from President’s Circle. It can be easy to miss at first as it is part of a Catholic Center, but if you approach the building from the east side and follow the rampway to the left you’ll find yourself right at its entrance.
Inside is a homely venue. The scent of coffee hangs in the air and an assortment of furniture beckons you to unwind and relax. Of course, if you’re a student and coffee is on your mind you’re probably looking to study instead of relax, and Catès Café has you covered. There are plenty of tables with convenient charging stations for you to situate yourself in, as well as a room off to the east side of the cafe intended for those looking for a quieter space to study.
Anything that is labeled “free” is as likely to be celebrated on a college campus as it is to be warranted with suspicion, but I can personally say the price is right. For free coffee, it even tastes better than what some dedicated coffee shops offer. The trade-off is that you’re making the coffee yourself. But it’s a fairly quick and straightforward process to make pour-over coffee and there is almost always someone at the cafe who is willing to help.
Such hospitality risks feeling insincere at a church, offered only in tandem with pressure to join or donate, but I’ve never experienced that at Catès Café. In the wake of more sexual abuse cases coming to light within the Catholic church, the cafe, in comparison, feels like a reminder of the values a church should strive for. Hospitality is offered for hospitality’s sake, and I’d like to see other churches make similar efforts.
With the relaxed atmosphere, the sense of accommodation at Catès Café reminds me of the ambient music of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. The music is styled to work perfectly as background music. While it is rendered beautifully through Eno’s meticulous method of composition, it never demands your whole attention. Like the cafe, you are free to visit and leave, soaking in as much or as little as you want.