Campus Cafes: Chauhaus vs. Barker Center Cafe

By Christine E Mansour

Let’s start with the obvious: coffee is important. Whether you pound espresso shots, savor cappuccinos, or sip pumpkin spice lattes (yes, your barista is definitely judging you), you understand the importance of a strong infusion of caffeine in the morning, unless you’re one of the lucky few who are “naturally energetic.”

When it comes to coffee, there are quite a few on-campus options. There’s always your local dhall, but let’s face it: Seattle’s Best doesn’t always stand up to its name. Lamont Cafe and Greenhouse are two other common choices, but let’s not be quite so basic.

Instead, this reporter took a closer look at two of the lesser-known cafes on campus: Chauhaus (like “Bauhaus” but with chow… get it?) in the Graduate School of Design, and the Arts Cafe in the Barker Center. Both cafes accept BoardPlus, which unfortunately I did not know was a thing until after I bought my coffee. Fellow freshmen: BoardPlus is $65 per semester that you get to spend at several non-Annenberg locations.


1. Location
Located on the first floor of the GSD at 48 Quincy Street, Chauhaus is seconds away from CGIS and just across the street from Sanders Theatre, making it an excellent choice for Gov concentrators and Ec 10 devotees alike (lol jk— you’re in section all week).

2. Ambiance
My initial impression of the place was not a particularly positive one, given the intimidating “no trespassing– GSD students only” sign on the door. I decided to gather up my courage and give it the old college try, and I ended up having no trouble getting a coffee. Not too sure what the deal was there.

The cafe itself is very open and bright, with lots of natural light streaming through the large window that faces a rather pleasant green area. The food and coffee are self-serve, which is a plus or a minus depending on whether you feel like interacting with humans.

Once you’ve purchased your food and/or beverages, there are plenty of tables where you can sip your coffee as you design Boston’s next great art museum. The vibe of the cafe is decidedly artsy and somewhat hipster (no shortage of thick-frame glasses), so it’s an excellent choice if you want to access your creative side after slogging through p-sets.

3. Coffee
Starbucks. I was a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong; Starbucks is solid, and it plays a very important role as, in my opinion, the best of the big chains (sorry, Dunkin). But Starbucks is not exactly in short supply, so I don’t get ecstatic when I see it.

I poured myself a French Roast ($1.65), being partial to darker coffees, and I was quite happy with it, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

4. Food
Chauhaus has an array of snack foods and a hot food section that’s open during mealtimes. Aside from some very large cookies, nothing jumped out at me in particular, so I passed.

5. Overall
Definitely a good place to go if you have work to do and you want a change of vibes from the usual spots. The coffee is dependable, but that’s not the reason to go to Chauhaus. It’s more about hanging around a different set of people who are working on very cool and artsy things.

The Arts Cafe

1. Location
Located at 12 Quincy Street in the Barker Center, the Arts Cafe is definitely the most convenient coffee spot for the Crimson Yard crowd. It’s also right across the street from Lamont, so if one cafe is too crowded, it’s very easy to run across and try the other.

2. Ambiance
No scary signs here. The room that houses the cafe is large and circular; ceiling-high windows covered with translucent drapes shine a warm, yellow light on the room, which creates a very cozy feel. The seating is more varied than at Chauhaus, featuring couches, comfy chairs, and windows seats in addition to standard tables.

Also distinct from Chauhaus is the way you purchase your goodies: the Arts Cafe features three very friendly baristas who provide a nice human touch to the caffeination process.

Overall, the Arts Cafe lives up to its name when it comes to ambiance, but it features a wider variety of artsiness than Chauhaus does given its location in the multi-discipline Humanities Center. Definitely the place to go to read Thucydides or talk about the poetry of Keats with a group of friends… or, just, you know, get some coffee.

3. Coffee
Not Starbucks! The coffee brewed at the Arts Cafe is named, appropriately, Counter Culture Coffee.

Having already reached my optimal buzz (caffeine buzz, that is), I decided to order an Americano ($2.85) instead of a brewed coffee in the hopes that its caffeine content would be lower (it wasn’t).

(Café Americano for the uninitiated.)

I was predisposed to like the coffee simply by virtue of it not being Starbucks, but I will say, though, that it had a bit of a metallic taste, which I wasn’t crazy about. Overall, however, a solid cup of coffee. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t my second cup in the span of half an hour.

4. Food
I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I couldn’t resist trying at least one of the baked goods that the Arts Cafe offers in addition to a selection of sandwiches. I ended up trying the vanilla bean cake ($3.15), which was delish but on the pricy side. Definitely a good treat for a rainy day.

5. Overall
I’m a fan, and I plan to return soon. I really liked the creative and slightly bookish feel of the place. The cafe has a nice energy to it, and a lively chatter pervades the room. Give it a try if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

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