5C Café Rankings & The Illusive Fall Drink Menu

Dahlia Roe ’27 and Audrey Green ’27
Staff Writers

Coffee and café culture is the lingua franca, or the shared language, of a college campus. Sweet treats and study spaces are an essential part of the day, and these items can make or break a college student’s social and academic experience. On college campuses, cafés act as essential meeting spots for friends, networking, starting the day, and of course, studying. Every coffee bar at the 5Cs has a distinct personality, and each occupies a different niche on campus. Here’s a guide to help you navigate and find the best spot for every occasion.

Most Social:
Claremont McKenna’s The Hub has become the most social café on campus. Its new feature of a pool table makes for a collaborative workspace that also provides students with a place to decompress and meet up with friends through meals and a game of pool. In addition to great quesadillas, they offer must-try mango smoothies and the space is the perfect place to socialize and run into people you know. Certainly meeting everybody. There are so many different personalities and just being able to meet everybody is great. It’s a cool environment, and I’m really enjoying it.

Sometimes the music and noise levels make it more ideal for socializing than for studying. Students say that they will go here hoping to run into a friend or be distracted from their work. For those who are looking to concentrate on their work, The Hub also provides a beautiful outdoor patio.

Best Breakfast:
Café 47 on Pomona campus is the place to go for a great breakfast sandwich. If you can get your hands on their vegan bagel before it sells out, it will become an essential part of your breakfast routine. The plain bagel, lightly toasted and topped with scrambled “egg” and “sausage,” is a delicious experience that most would think impossible for something only using vegan ingredients.

Beyond their breakfast, this Pomona stop has some excellent drinks. If you are searching for a Starbucks refresher replicate, then make sure to try one of the many Tea Shakers: iced tea enhanced by fruit juice and other dried fruits.

The inside seating of Café 47, although cute and well-lit, is very limited at most times of the day. However, do not fret — the café’s outdoor seating is part of a larger Pomona courtyard which makes for a lively atmosphere. It is always full of students, which balances out the quaintness of the indoor space.

Best To-Go Food:
The best grab-and-go food can be found at Muddbucks, officially named The Café, on the east side of Harvey Mudd. When compared to the other 5C café fridges, this location contains a wide variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads ranging from a delicious tuna melt sandwich to a chicken pesto pita pocket. They rarely sell out, and most options are available well into the afternoon.

The indoor seating at Muddbucks is separated from the café, which makes for a much quieter working environment than that of The Hub. Especially in the mornings, people look to Muddbucks for a productive morning workspace while they enjoy breakfast.

Best Late Night Meal:
We’re giving the Best Late Night Meal to Jay’s Place, also at Harvey Mudd. Many 5C students told us that their ice cream, popcorn, quesadillas, and grilled cheeses are perfect after a night out or for a post-study midnight meal.

The look of Jay’s Place is akin to that of a diner with its booths, dim lighting, and neon signage. It is hard to find, hidden beneath the academic buildings of Harvey Mudd, but it is worth the trek. Due to its diner-esque ambiance, Jay’s Place is not the ideal place to study and get work done, but it is great for a post-work hangout or late-night hangout session.

Best Overall:
The Motley Coffeehouse won three of our awards in our search for the best café on campus: Best Ambiance, Best Study Space, and Best Drink Menu. Not only do they serve delicious drinks, but the coffeehouse also redefines the community aspect of a café.

The Motley playlist is a culmination of uplifting, encouraging, and moony songs; it is the only café that we could willingly work in without headphones.

The student-run Scripps coffee shop has a constantly rotating drink menu full of creative ideas, such as Christian Girl Autumn and The John Lemon. The featured drinks always have a twist. We always have enjoyed the spicy chai, which is a staple on the Motley’s menu. However, the Christian Girl Autumn elevates the chai flavor with maple simple syrup and cinnamon powder. This makes for a perfect fall flavor for those who long for fall leaves in the Southern California weather.

Even better, they have many ways to personalize your drink with different milks, toppings, and syrups. We believe the vanilla syrup and cold foam are simple but delicious additions to virtually any drink on the menu.
The ambiance of The Motley brings people together in a newly renovated, but still cozy study space complete with couches and a mellow but uplifting playlist. It’s also the most versatile café on campus. The establishment’s managerial team have mastered the ability to utilize the space, as exemplified by how it can quickly go from a beautiful study spot to a late-night Bottoms viewing party or a live music venue.

Image Source: Ellen Hu ’24