Friday, August 21, 2009

Some Study Tips

School is just around the corner, meaning it's almost time for those dreadful tests. Here are some study tips that you can keep in mind before school starts...
  • Study in your classroom. Studying in the same environment as your exam really helps you remember information. You could use the white boards to draw diagrams and write information. Of course, what you write on there will be erased by the time you take your exam. But imagining that your writings are on the board during your test will help you recall information a lot easier.
  • Study in a slightly noisy environment. This is why I like studying in cafes. When you take your test, there's a chance that other students will make some noise--coughing, sneezing, pencil-scratching, etc. By studying in a slightly distracting place, you can practice tuning out noises. Now this doesn't mean it's okay to study in front of a TV or in front of your computer when your AIM is on. It's best to find a place with a little noise, but not so much that it detracts from working productively.
  • Study with a timer. This is especially helpful for people who have anxiety during exams. The reason why this works is because it adds the same pressure you feel during your test. If you get used to time pressure during studying, you'll get used to it when the test day comes. This is also good for practicing for an in class essay.
  • Take small breaks while studying. You've probably heard this before, but this is really important. Our brains don't have the capacity to remember so much information in one given amount of time. By taking breaks, our brains have more time to absorb the information. But don't take a long break; 10 minutes max is good enough. Take that time to eat a healthy snack or to take a short walk. Avoid using your break time to online shop, talk online, or watch TV because doing so will most likely stretch that 10 minute break to an hour!
  • One cup of coffee or caffeinated tea is good enough before the test. Studies have shown that a moderate amount of caffeine can possibly improve one's performance. But taking too much might lead to disaster. Taking 3 cans of Red Bull before your test might lead to extreme jitteriness and the inability to concentrate.
  • Find some time to relax before your exam. This is great for those who have anxiety. Find a place where you can be alone 20 minutes before a test (like a bathroom stall or your dorm room). Breathe, and concentrate only on your breathing. And remember to relax all your muscles.
Hope this helps! =)

Disclaimer: These have worked for me. But because we all learn differently, these might not work for everyone.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: Coffee Lovers

COFFEE LOVERS
1855 Aborn Rd
San Jose, CA 95121
(408) 223-1199
Hours: Sorry, I forgot! I think they open from 7AM to pretty late. I will check and come back...

When people around here talk about this cafe, they usually describe it as "ghetto" or "crappy-looking." I've been here a lot of times. And while there are some things I don't like about it, I don't think this place is completely horrible.

First off, the food and drinks. One reason why I like this place is their iced Vietnamese coffee. It's one of the few places I've been to where I tried a tasty, authentic Vietnamese coffee. Their other coffee drinks are good as well, but they're pretty expensive (3-4 bucks). They also serve boba here, but I'm not too fond the texture. They also serve breakfast (like an egg and bacon croissant sandwich). The food is okay, but too greasy for my liking.

As for the studying environment, they also have pretty big tables that are perfect for studying. Free wi-fi is also available. But one thing I can't stand about the place is the strong smell of cigarettes. Since they offer outside seating right next to the door, you can totally smell all the smoking going on out there from the inside. One time it was so bad that I had to stop studying and leave early. In the summer, it also gets really stuffy inside.

Customers have also complained about the service. The first time I went here, I thought the lady at the cash register was really rude; she asked me, "what do you want?!" and when she gave me change, she slapped it on the counter instead of handing it to me. But I've learned that if you're nice to them and ask them how they're doing, they're a lot more respectful. They're especially nice to you if you go there regularly. (I don't know if this is because they want your money, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now lol).

There are other little things about the cafe that I found interesting. For example, they have a drive-thru. (What ma-and-pa coffee house has a drive-thru? That's pretty cool, if you ask me!) I haven't actually been through it though. They also have a piano inside and it's relaxing to listen to Asian grandpas play on it once in a while. I also find it funny how they have a gazillion TV's in there.

There are definitely some drawbacks, but I go back here occasionally. Now for my recommendations and ratings:

MY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Iced Vietnamese Coffee
White Mocha Bianca (hot)
Avocado Shake

FOOD AND DRINK RATING:
3.5 out of 5

ENVIRONMENT FOR STUDYING:
3.5 out of 5

OVERALL RATING
3.5 out of 5







Sunday, August 9, 2009

Review: Clair De Lune

Clair de Lune Coffee Lounge
2906 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104-2934
Hours: 5AM-12AM M-Th, 5AM-1AM F-Sat

I've been here a few times already and I must say, I have mixed feelings about it. It's convenient since it's next to all the shops I love going to, but I think one word that can describe my experiences here is "inconsistent."

Their food is really really good. I've had breakfast there and they really don't skimp out on the quality. I've also had their sweet snacks there (cookies, cake) and I enjoyed them. The drinks, however, don't always taste great; sometimes they taste amazing, other times I had to throw them away out of disgust. I think it really depends on who makes the drinks. One barista made a really good Vietnamese coffee. But the next time I ordered it, this other barista did a horrible job. Sometimes the drinks are watered down or way too sweet. It's really a hit or miss when you order a drink. Also, the drinks are pretty pricey. I'm not sure if you want to pay a lot if you have to guess if your drink will taste good or not.

As for the environment, I don't care much for it. I liked the high ceiling and their attempt to be artistic, but I don't think it's the right place for people to study. The music is way too loud, it gets really hot in there, and the tables and chairs don't seem really clean. I think they built this cafe as a place for people to hang out and socialize. It's great for that, but definitely not for studying.

You can try this place for yourself. Maybe you'll have a more pleasant experience than I did.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Breakfast Belgian Waffle
Chocolate Chip Cookies


FOOD AND DRINK RATING:
3 out of 5

ENVIRONMENT FOR STUDYING:
1 out of 5

OVERALL RATING:
2 out of 5

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: Tanner's Coffee (Culver City)

TANNER'S COFFEE
4342 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
Hours: 6AM to 10PM M-F, 7AM to 10PM Sat., 7AM-9PM

I've come across this cafe several months ago. I can't say I'm a regular, but I've been quite a few times already to explain what it is like.

The decor inside Tanner's Coffee gives the cafe a cozy atmosphere--especially for hipsters. There are couches you can sit on if you want to have a talk with a friend. There are also tables available for people who need to study.

The workers are really friendly and they like to strike up conversations with customers. They are prompt with their service too.

The espresso drinks are pretty tasty. In my opinion, the drinks taste a lot better with soy milk. A friend of mine, however, did not like the coffee and said it was way too bitter. The food is not that great. I've had a carrot cake, and it was nothing spectacular. I've also had a toasted everything bagel and I did not like it at all (it was waaay too salty).

As for the study environment, it's all right, not bad. As I've mentioned, there are tables. But the tables are a little too small; there's no way you can share a table with a study buddy. There are also not that many outlets, which is a pity since Tanner's gets crowded later on in the day and many people bring their laptops. Other than that, it's a pretty good environment for homework. The music isn't too loud and the lighting is sufficient. And there is free wi-fi too!

My experiences here weren't bad at all, but I have been to better cafes for studying. I wouldn't mind going here again though.


MY RECOMMENDATIONS:
European Hot Cocoa
White Chocolate Mocha
Chai

FOOD AND DRINK RATING:
3 out of 5

ENVIRONMENT RATING:
4 out of 5

OVERALL RATING:
3.5 out of 5

Friday, June 12, 2009

Review: Tea Forest

TEA FOREST
8686 Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA
Hours: 7AM to 6PM M-F, 9AM to 3PM on Sat., Closed on Sun.
Official Website:
http://www.teaforest.com/

This is probably one of the best cafes I have ever been to! Ever since I came across this place, I've been going here to study, drink coffee, and munch on a snack. The prices are decent as well. You can get an iced tea for less than 2 bucks!

Tea Forest is a tea and coffee bar and is especially a great place if you LOVE tea. They never serve their teas with stale teabags; rather, they're freshly brewed. There's a lot of teas to choose from as well. If you'd like to take some tea leaves home, they also sell them in containers. AND..they sell cute little tea cups too!

Their coffee and espresso drinks are nice as well. They serve Illy's coffee, a really good brand from Italy (and by the way, it's hard to find a cafe that sells Illy's).

I have also been impressed with the food. The sandwiches are soooo good. I recommend to ask them to heat it up for you; the cheese they put in the sandwiches are delicious when they're melted. They also serve soup. If you want a snack, their muffins and cookies are quite tasty too.

The service has been good for all the times I have been here. The staff members are very friendly, and they seem to remember you after coming a few times. They set a very cheerful atmosphere, which is nice especially if you've had a long stressful day.

As for the study environment, they have tables that are big enough for two people to study together. The music isn't too loud. The lighting is sufficient depending on where you sit; I suggest sitting at the tables nearest to the windows. They also have free Wi-fi for those who need to do online research or who want to go on Facebook while they study (tisk tisk). People might get a little noisy though, especially for those who have poor selective attention when studying.

The "cons" of Tea Forest are lack of parking (you have to either use a 2 hour meter or park kind of far) and the limited hours that the cafe is open. I'm surprised that it doesn't open on Sundays and it closes so early on Saturdays.

Overall, I have been very impressed with this cafe and I would recommend it to anyone.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Jasmine Bubble Tea
Jasmine Tea
Chocolate Hazelnut Frappé

FOOD AND DRINK RATING:
5 out of 5

ENVIRONMENT FOR STUDYING:
4.5 out of 5

OVERALL RATING:
5 out of 5



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome!

If you live in CA and have trouble finding a great, ma-and-pa coffee shop, you've come to the right place!

Ever since I started college, I have been on the search for the perfect cafe--one with great coffee drinks,fresh teas, yummy snacks, and a good environment for studying. Some have impressed me, others not so much.

The purpose of this blog is to help all of you who are caffeine addicts and busy college students to find great places. I have been to a handful in California, and I hope to expand in the near future. I'll be writing reviews for the cafes I have been to, describing the atmosphere, the food, the drinks, and the service of each one I've been to. Hopefully this will help you out!