The sippin’ scene

Whether you're a java connoisseur or a casual gulper, Lawrence has a coffee shop with the cup of joe - and the vibe - you crave

KU law school graduate Amy Kuhn, of Coldwater, studies for the bar exam near the front window of the Nova Cyber Cafe, 745 N.H. Downtown coffee shops are popular hangouts for Lawrence students who are cramming for an exam or just out to socialize.

Ask baristas around town, and you’ll quickly learn that Lawrence’s coffeehouse scene offers a comfortable hangout to suit just about everybody’s taste.

Whether you’re seeking to sip a latte in a serene atmosphere surrounded by art and books – that would be Signs of Life, 722 Mass. – or you dig a more eclectic environment – try Henry’s, 11 E. Eighth St., home to a funkier, artsy crowd – it won’t take you long to find a niche that feels just right.

It’s all about finding a “third space” – somewhere aside from work or home – where you can find a sense of community.

That’s according to Charlie Whitman, owner of the 11-year-old Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St. – a place to tap out a paper on your laptop, study for a midterm exam or just hang out and watch the passing parade of Lawrence life.

“You can gossip and find out who’s been there and who’s coming. Your barista is like your bartender,” Whitman says.

There are plenty of coffeehouses to choose among; Lawrence is thick with them.

“There’s a fair amount of choices, for the size of the town. There’s definitely something for everyone,” says Ryan Folker, a barista at Henry’s.

If it’s coffee and company you seek, here’s a quick look at some good places to check out:

¢ Borders Cafe, 700 N.H.: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; wireless Internet (through T-Mobile); eclectic mix of people, tons of Kansas University students working on papers and projects; various community groups meet here; OK to stay as long as you like.

¢ Java Break, 17 E. Seventh St.: Open 24 hours a day, every day; free wireless Internet, plus three Macs to use online (10 cents per minute); a favorite hang of KU students, downtown workers and professionals; outdoor patio; friendly, funky and home to HUGE cookies, brownies and breads.

¢ La Prima Tazza, 638 Mass.: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; free wireless Internet; Lawrence’s oldest coffeehouse (14 years and counting); loads of KU students, academics, downtown professionals, everyone from high school students to senior citizens, a lot of regulars; friendly, and a prime people-watching place.

¢ Starbucks, 647 Mass.: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday; wireless Internet (through T-Mobile); fast and friendly service, consistent quality; a lot of KU students, professionals, downtown workers, shoppers, out-of-towners.

¢ Signs of Life, 722 Mass.: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday; free wireless Internet; laid-back, low-key and relaxed; art gallery upstairs, bookstore on main floor; sidewalk patio; diverse crowd, good place to read, sip coffee or study.

¢ Henry’s, 11 E. Eighth St.: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week; free wireless Internet; as eclectic a clientele as it gets; expect to see lots of piercings, tattoos and mod hairdos; notably gay friendly; outdoor patio attracts smokers, folks with dogs.

¢ Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St.: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day; a “Viennese-style cafe” with coffee drinks plus full-service bar; fiercely loyal regulars; great place to hang out for conversation, meet a date or end a late night out; sidewalk patio, lots of dogs.

¢ Z’s Divine Espresso, 10 E. Ninth St.: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; free wireless Internet; they roast their own beans, adding to coffee’s quality; regular and loyal clientele; lots of KU students, professors, writers like the small, intimate space with five built-in computer/study stations; sidewalk patio. Other location: 1800 E. 23rd St., drive-through window caters to commuter crowd.

¢ Milton’s Coffee & Wine, 920 Mass.: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday/Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; a Lawrence favorite; serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; fabulous desserts, cakes, muffins, cookies; everyone from single guys to families, students to senior citizens; sidewalk patio.

¢ Aimee’s Cafe and Coffeehouse, 1025-A Mass.; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; cool, comfy and dimly lit; relax on old sofas and enjoy coffee, sandwiches, soups, wraps and especially biscuits and gravy; homey, friendly, attracts a mixed crowd.

¢ J & S Coffee – Espresso Bar & Roasterie, 4821 W. Sixth St.: 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

¢ The Cup, 4000 W. Sixth St.: 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday/Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

¢ Scone Lady’s Classic Gourmet, 3300 W. 15th St., 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday/Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.