Cambridge Tea Party

Maintaining your productivitea by getting off campus
APR 2019
Rumya
R.
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology

I might be the only person in the world that looks forward to working on weekends. For most people, weekends are a time to sleep in or to catch up on their favorite TV shows but for me, I use work as an excuse to visit some of my favorite places in Cambridge: coffee shops. On weekdays, I rarely have the time to venture beyond my normal route from home to lab and back home. My weekends, however, are my chance to break from the routine. But it wasn’t always like that.

It was early October and fellowship application deadlines were just around the corner. I had been working on my personal statement for a solid three hours in my apartment until I decided to go grocery shopping to take a break from describing my life aspirations in less than 500 words (or, at least, trying to). That was how I discovered Curio Coffee. I distinctly remember being drawn in by the smell of roasted coffee beans and freshly made waffles from behind the counter. Impulsively, I bought a waffle and set up shop in one of the corner tables to try and finish my personal statement. Maybe it was the sugar from the waffle or the caffeine in the air, but within the hour, my personal statement was finished and my coffee-shop addiction had begun.


Image source: https://www.deviantart.com/artbymoga/art/Cocoa-Drinkers-640547965

Over the following year, I became a regular at Curio (and befriended some of the other regular waffle-holics). My roommate once said that everyone in the coffee shop looked like they had come with the place. The decorations on Curio’s walls are best described as hipster art deco meets rustic cabin in the woods, and its patrons are just as eclectic. Some people come to share a coffee and a waffle with a loved one and others come to work on their next art piece, novel, or Cell/Nature/Science paper. The walls at Curio have seen me do some of my most productive work, but more importantly, seen me share some of my best memories with roommates and friends. Major accomplishments at my apartment are always celebrated with a Curio waffle, from my roommate Tally turning in her Master’s thesis to my roommate Christian finally learning to use our oven without setting off the fire alarm.

I can often lure my friends into joining me in my weekend coffee shop crawl under the guise of getting work done. That was how I discovered Loyal Nine. Loyal Nine’s cafe is further down Cambridge Street and perfectly equidistant between my and my friends’ apartment in Inman Square. Loyal Nine’s tables are a bit larger, making it more comfortable for working, but what really keeps me coming back is their incredible style and tea selection. Call me a millennial (because I am), but something about how they serve their tea in a cast-iron tea pot with a tiny ceramic teacup just makes everything taste SO much better (and so much more insta-worthy). My inner child loves wrapping my fingers around the little tea cup and letting the warmth from the tea thaw my fingertips. The ritual of pouring my tea from the teapot into the cup every so often is also a greatly appreciated break from craning over my computer screen for hours on end. While the patrons are not usually regulars and the environment feels a little less homey because of it, the tea selection cannot be beat and the baristas really know what they’re doing.

While there’s nothing quite like your own home or your lab or your office to really get your nose down to the paper and some serious work cranked out, I swear by coffee/tea shops as a much-needed change of scenery to revamp your productivity when you’re stuck in a rut (or when you’re feeling a bit indulgent). The smell of coffee in the air and a warm pastry to munch on while you work makes weekend work not only bearable, but something to look forward to. I think everyone deserves to have a home away from home (or in this case, a workplace away from work), and you have an entire PhD to find yours!