By Siobhan Callahan

Something special is brewing in the coffee houses of downtown Winston-Salem, drawing students away from their familiar campuses.

Students from Wake Forest University and Salem College come to study at downtown coffee shops such as Chelsee’s, Camino Bakery, or Krankies Coffee, drawn off campus not only by the aromatic coffee and crisp scones, but by the atmosphere these cafes create.  Students and baristas say that the downtown coffee houses offer a place for students to focus without the distractions of campus life, a change of scenery, and a stress free environment with ample resources, such as endless coffee and free Wi-Fi.

On a recent Saturday afternoon students sat at the wide spacious tables, spreading out their laptops, books and binders, in Chelsee’s on North Trade Street.  Students said the quiet atmosphere, with only subtle background music and hushed conversations, is a very welcoming environment for studying.

“There’s free Wi-Fi, plenty of space, soda, snacks and coffee,” Josh Norman, barista at Chelsee’s describes why students set up study camp in the cafe, “People will come in for the day and usually stay for about two to five hours.”

About three blocks away from Chelsee’s, students spread study materials across tables and counter tops, fixing their eyes on the materials in front of them, getting into the study zone in Camino.  Kim Yalango, second year Wake Forest University graduate student studying counseling, sat diligently taking notes, not phased by the many people passing by her table.

“I come to Camino if I really have a lot of work and need to focus,” Yalango explained.  She thinks Camino is the perfect place to hunker down on serious work.

On the east end of downtown, Krankies, a coffee roaster, coffee shop, and music venue, sits beside the railroad tracks.  Students fill the long couches and wide tables in the former industrial building.  Emily Barshay, a Wake Forest University Sophomore studying communications, sat in the far right corner outlining her relational communications textbook.

“I come to study off campus to get away from the confinement of the library,” Barshay said, “It’s just a much less stressful environment.”  She explained how she finds libraries cold and stressful, so instead she comes to Krankies and enjoys the welcoming, low-key environment.

Two tables away from Barshay sat, Elis Herman, a Salem College student, staring at a computer screen with headphones in, trying to hone in on an English paper.  Herman explained that it is better to do work off campus at coffee shops, even if it does get distracting at times.

“I’m pretty distracted right now to be honest, but there just really aren’t a lot of good places to study on campus,” Herman explains that although it is distracting at times, studying at Krankies is better than studying on Salem College’s campus.

Sitting at a large table that rests on what becomes the stage when Krankies turns into a music venue, Wake Forest graduate student Amanda Carr and five classmates spread out their notebooks, laptops, binders, and printed power point slides, as they study neuroanatomy together.

“We were just sick of the library, so we decided to come here,” Carr explains that she and her friends needed a change of scenery, “I wouldn’t come here to study alone but definitely for a group study.”

Emily Barshay AudioClip 1

Emily Barshay AudioClip 2



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