A campus guide to the best and worst coffee


Coffee keeps students running, and students need to know where they can go to get some midnight fuel to help them make it through the day. This is your guide to coffee options on campus. See something missing? Tweet us @PeakSFU to tell us what your favourite coffee on campus is!

What are the coffee options on and around campus?

Coffee has a been as significant part of my life since I can remember; it’s ingrained in my Colombian blood.

Colombia is the world’s third largest exporter of coffee, behind only Vietnam and Brazil. I remember waking up to the smell of coffee when I was small, walking up to an old metallic pot where the water was boiled and seeing how the coffee would drip from what looked like a filter made out of women’s stockings.

As I grew older I understood more and more how important coffee is in my culture; it’s not just a breakfast drink, it’s an all day and all night drink for us. We have a tintico (a small coffee, in between espresso and drip coffee) after lunch while we do the sobremesa, the art of staying at the table for hours to continue talking.

At around five in the afternoon in my grandma’s house, during a commercial break from her soap operas, she quickly runs to the kitchen to start a coffee pot.  She brings little mugs filled with coffee and some cookies or biscuits. “It’s healthy to drink coffee — for the heart,” she usually says as she sets the tray of coffee on the living room table.

Where I come from, coffee is not a drink that hipsters microbrew in search of their authenticity, nor is it something tasteless you drink to prevent snoozing off in class, or something to be drunk in a rush. It’s part of us.  

Now here I am, 6,752 kilometers from home, looking from something that resembles the coffee I love. This is why I have taken the time to taste and understand the different cups of joe you can find around campus. None of that “mocha frappuccino with soy milk and whipped cream” business, just regular black coffee and where to find it around campus.

Renaissance Coffee*

I like Renaissance, and I especially like Renaissance because it’s SFU. It’s something our community should be proud of. . . not only are their employees super-nice (unless there is a huge line and they’re kind of stressed), but they are fair trade and offer eight different types of coffee!

They Offer: Irish Cream (Only offered in the AQ location), Costa Rica (Only offered in the AQ location), Rocket Fuel, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Machu Pichu, Mokha Java, Terra Firma

Small: 8 oz. | Price: $1.60

Medium: 12 oz. | Price: $2.00

Large: 16 oz. |Price: $2.20

Loyalty card: Yes! Get the 10th coffee free.

Bring your own mug discount? Yes, save 10 cents.

Where to find it?

AQ and Applied Sciences Building.

Best thing about it: The employees and the SFU pride.

*You can also get Renaissance coffee at Simon C’s convenience store located in 2000 level of the AQ when you walk in from convocation mall. Weirdly enough, they offer medium roast or dark roast, neither of which are offered at any Renaissance location. The 12 oz. coffee will cost you $2.00.


I know what you are thinking: “Nester’s, really?” Yes really. At the back of Nesters you can find this little sitting area perfect to get some studying done without being disturbed and have a cup of joe. Their coffee is what you would expect; it’s supermarket coffee. You go because it’s convenient.

They Offer: Classic, Lush, Super Dark

Small: 12 oz. | Price: $1.90

Large: 16 oz. | Price: $2.10

Where to find it?


Best thing about it: Get a jumbo muffin (they really are jumbo size) and a coffee for $3.15.


What Timmy’s is to Canadians, Starbucks is to Americans. I am not a fan — whenever I drink Starbucks coffee I get a weird ache in my gums, which can’t be healthy. I understand the appeal, though. Going to Starbucks is cool for people. They have a place to sit (unless it’s packed, which it usually is) and they can listen to some elevator jazz music.

They offer: Light Roast, Medium Roast, Dark Roast

Tall: 12 oz. | Price: $2.36

Grande: 16 oz. | Price: $2.68

Venti: 20 oz. | Price: $2.99

Bring your own cup discount? Yes, save 10 cents.

Where to find it?

Cornerstone and West Mall Center, 3000 level

Best thing about it: The bathrooms are always clean!

Nature’s Garden Café

I love Nature’s Garden and in my opinion, they have the best coffee on campus. The people are always nice, it is never too packed, the food is always filling and healthy, and the coffee oh, the coffee! It’s never burnt, it’s never too strong or too weak, and it actually taste like coffee is supposed to!

They offer: Medium Roast, Dark Roast

Small: 8 oz. | Price: $1.85

Medium: 12 oz. | Price: $2.10

Large: 16 oz. | Price: $2.36

Loyalty card: Yes! Get the 10th coffee free.

Where to find it?


Best thing about it: the taste!

Mackenzie Café*

The Mackenzie café is a weird place for me — it’s in the middle of campus, there are way too many options, and way too many people. I never know exactly how I’m getting charged, and when I ask the cashiers they give me a dirty look. I avoid this place like the plague. Their coffee is pretty decent, though, and it’s all fair trade!

They offer: Classic, Super Dark, French Vanilla, Decaf

Small: 12 oz. |Price: $2.00

Medium: 16 oz. | Price: $2.20

Large: 20 oz. | Price: $2.40

Bring your own mug discount? Yes, save 25 cents.

Where to find it?

AQ, 3000 level

Best thing about it: they have decaf.

*You can find this same coffee in the Dining Hall, but you cannot buy just one cup, you pay for the time of day you are in there; either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night. The good thing about that is you can have as many cups as you want.

Higher Grounds coffee

I like Higher Grounds. If I’m too far away from Cornerstone to go to my option A, this is definitely my option B. There is usually no line and always a place to sit. The coffee is decent and warms up your spirit on a rainy day.

They offer: Dark Roast, Medium Roast, Hazelnut Cream, Caramel Crunch, French Vanilla

Small: 8 oz. | Price: $1.35

Medium: 12 oz. | Price: $1.80

Large: 16 oz. | Price: $2.15

Bring your own mug discount? Yes, save 10 cents.

Loyalty card: Yes, the Belly Card! You accumulate points and get different discounts. The Belly card also works at the Highland Pub, so you can collect points at both locations!

Where to find it?

At the entrance of Maggie Benston Centre, right above the forum chambers and The Peak offices.

Best thing about it: seeing people try to enter the glass windows and get confused as to why they don’t open.

Tim Hortons

Oh Timmies! A true Canadian icon. Their assortment of bagels, doughnuts, and pastries are delicious. As for the coffee, I’m going to be honest and say I despise it. After I had my first sip four years ago when I first arrived in the country, I can honestly say I have never tried it again. Nevertheless, I understand the charm: it’s home and it’s cheap.

They offer: Original, Dark Roast, Decaf

Small: 10 oz. | Price: $1.50

Medium: 15 oz. | Price: $1.80

Large: 20 oz. | Price: $1.95

Extra Large: 24 oz. | Price: $2.15

Loyalty card: Nope.

Bring your own mug discount? Yes, save 10 cents. But this might not apply to every franchise.

Where to find it?
West Mall Centre, 2000 level

Best thing about it: roll up the rim to win and the express kiosk!