Coffee Countdown: The best coffee on campus

May 30, 2016, 9:24 p.m.

The Grind presents a totally biased, very subjective list of the worst-to-best coffee on campus. Fuel up for that week 10 struggle bus!


  1. Dining hall coffee

Yes, it’s supposedly made from Starbucks beans, but often lukewarm and dilute, dining hall coffee rests solidly at the bottom of the list. The nifty coffee vending machine in Manzanita Dining Hall is a step in the right direction, though.

Manz Dining’s new coffee machine (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)
Manz Dining’s new coffee machine (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)


  1. Forbes Cafe

Yep, Forbes Cafe, the cafe in Huang Engineering that replaced Ike’s and has contentious pay-per-weight meals, actually has an espresso machine. It’s cool to see the machine squirt out steamed milk and espresso at the touch of a button, but the coffee is average.


  1. Starbucks

This one’s pretty divisive — I’ve found that people usually love Starbucks or hate it. Aside from the sugary specialty drinks, straight-up Starbucks coffee is too acidic for my taste.


  1. TAP

The Axe and Palm’s newly expanded coffee menu is good but not amazing. It’s pretty much the same coffee as Starbucks next door at Tresidder, but at least you can use meal plan dollars and they give out stamp cards redeemable for a free drink after 6 coffees.

Iced coffee and a cinnamon swirl at the Alumni Café (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)
Iced coffee and a cinnamon swirl at the Alumni Café (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)
  1. Alumni Cafe

I think the Alumni Cafe still uses Peet’s coffee, after most R&DE locations have switched to Starbucks, so it gets points there. The coffee is satisfying but not dazzling (the cinnamon swirl cookies are fantastic though!).


  1. Coupa

Coupa is a Stanford favorite for its convenient locations around campus and chai lattes. However, after trying both the coffee and a cappuccino, I wasn’t blown away. There are definitely more flavor notes (I’m attempting to be a connoisseur, shh) than Starbucks, but it wasn’t incredible.


  1. CoHo

Pretty good coffee, but a tad overpriced. Tastier than Coupa, IMO.


  1. Beckman Bistro

The Beckman Bistro in the basement of the Beckman Center in the med school campus is a well-kept secret of Stanford graduate students. Half of the store sells rockin’ burritos, and the other half, a surprisingly sophisticated café, offers coffee beans sourced from all over the world, too many kinds to count, organized by geographic source. For any die-hard coffee fiends, Beckman is the place to go. I tried an Ethiopian blend once, but to an uncouth caffeine seeker like me, I couldn’t tell the difference.

 The macchiato at Olive’s (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)

The macchiato at Olive’s (Samantha Wong/The Stanford Daily)
  1. Olive’s

Oh, Olive’s. Conveniently located in the Quad, between my major and minor departments, Olive’s was my main caffeine supplier last quarter. The caramel macchiato is by and far the best drink on the espresso menu, and the coffee is bitter but earthy. I filled out my frequent coffee-drinker stamp card in just a few weeks.



  1. Stanford Faculty Club

Unfortunately, to try the coffee at this exclusive place means you have to snag the invitation of a professor. I don’t know what it is about this coffee, but it’s smooth and fragrant and thick and absolutely delicious.


  1. Peet’s

Hidden on the third floor of the Clark Center in the med school campus, I recently discovered this little gem and fell in love. I tried their Coconut Black Tie off the special menu, which includes coconut milk, their signature cold brew iced coffee and condensed milk. Incredible.


Is your favorite coffee vendor missing from this list? Completely disagree with the rankings? Let Samantha Wong know at [email protected].

Samantha Wong '18 is the former Executive Editor of vol. 252 and former Managing Editor of The Grind. She is majoring in Human Biology with a minor in History. To reach her, please contact slwong 'at'

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