By: Yelin Gemma Lee, Arts & Culture Editor
Most Vancouverites can appreciate the summer because of our city’s rainy disposition. So, it can feel unfair to have to work or study in front of a screen all day while your friends are stockpiling Vitamin D exposure. At least once a week, I like to work long hours in a cozy café because I can focus better outside my apartment and I get to treat myself at the same time. These are my most frequented study spots in Burnaby, with reliable wifi and plenty of wall plugs to charge up.
Hiel Cafe (7885 6th Street, Burnaby)
This is arguably the best café to study at that I’ve found so far in the Greater Vancouver area. It has it all — high-quality food, delicious drinks, and an airy atmosphere with lots of natural light. The café seating area is well spaced out which is nice for COVID-19 related concerns. The food and drinks here are something to look forward to, with plenty of savoury and sweet homemade goods! They have an awesome selection of made-to-order sandwiches, poké bowls, and giant soufflé pancakes. If you’re more so in the mood for a sweet treat, their homemade cookies and cakes are swoon-worthy. Hiel has take-out options for their food and drinks, and they are on Uber for delivery as well.
I haven’t had issues with feeling like I was overstaying, even when I stay for five hours at a time on some heavy work days. This might be because the café is in a rather quiet neighbourhood near the New Westminster/Burnaby city limits. I guess the awkward location is the one downside, but because of this, it’s never been overcrowded when I’ve gone in.
Juillet Cafe (206-4341 North Road, Burnaby)
If you’re looking for a café with great Korean music and immaculate vibes, Juillet is the place to go. The large windows of this café overlook the North Road Koreatown which is a short walk from Lougheed Station. It has a wood-based design concept, with plants sporadically incorporated into the space. When you enter the building to access the café entrance, you are greeted with flowers and essential oils spilling over from Aromatears, the neighbouring fragrance and flower store. To your left, you’ll find a jewelry kiosk with affordable hypoallergenic jewellery from Korea and a photobooth. You can really feel the warm and interconnected environment of the plaza community as soon as you walk in.
Juillet Cafe has lovely homemade pastries and cakes, and their coffee tastes great. They offer a couple of sandwiches now but I haven’t tried them as I usually leave the cafe for lunch across the street at Kimbap Cheonguk, a casual Korean street food joint. The downside of this cafe is that it can be hard to find a seat depending on the time you go. To combat this problem of potential customers leaving after seeing the place packed with camped-out students, management recently applied a two-hour maximum seating limit. If you find the place full when you arrive, there’s another cute café in the plaza beside Hannam Supermarket called Standing Egg Coffee.
Cafe Sweets and Beans (5152 Kingsway, Burnaby)
A quick walk from either Royal Oak or Metrotown Skytrain stations, Cafe Sweets and Beans offers exactly what its name suggests and more. They have a fairly large space and it is clean and quiet. They are so consistent in this that I held my tutoring lessons here for two years and never worried about not finding a seat. They have a tiffany blue theme going on with their branding which I find strangely calming. Cafe Sweets and Beans calls itself a “cafeteria-style restaurant,” and although they serve pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches, I definitely consider it to be a café environment. You won’t feel uncomfortable pulling out your laptop or readings here, and I’ve had no problem staying for several hours at a time.
Their cheesecakes are my favourite in the city, and I always order an iced injeolmi latte, which is based on a traditional Korean rice cake. I haven’t seen this specialty drink anywhere else and I’m obsessed. If you’re getting hungry as you study, their truffle oil pasta is delicious. You can also head right upstairs to Sushi Oyama, one of my go-to sushi places in a “converted heritage house.”