Friday night at the Rendevous Caf on South University, a large group of high schoolers sat in the front window. Toward the back of the store, three or four people poured their minds into their books for the evening. A couple of guys sat with their hot beverages, just talking to each other. Why here? Why not study or hang out in the residence hall? Why not go out to a party?

Paul Wong
Fourth year Japanese major Josh Jacobsen (right) chats with friend Hidimi Kasai at Starbucks on State Street.<br><br>BRENDAN O”DONNELL

Well, the scholars in the back of the room can be easily explained. Imad Chmaissen, the Friday night manager at Rendevous, said that the shop is “not as busy as a typical weekday” on the weekends. The quiet of the room is seldom broken. In fact, that”s the case at most of the coffee shops on Central Campus. The entire patronage of the Cava Java on South University consisted of about four people on this past Friday night. Two of them were studying. At the counter, the manager, Trisha Webb, and her father played cards.

Over on State Street, the coffee seeking crowds were a little bigger at Espresso Royale, Caribou and Starbucks, but there are more available tables on weekend nights than during the slow-business parts of the day. Late Friday nights at every coffee shop, one can find at least three people hitting the books.

Another definite draw of the shops is, obviously, the coffee. However, this is only a bonus if the coffee is good. The Rendevous Caf has great coffee. Starbucks is always a place to get great coffee, although sometimes it tends to be a little sweet. For those who don”t like coffee at all, Cava Java has some fantastic alternatives, such as hot chocolate and smoothies. Another benefit of Cava Java is that the one in the Union takes Entre Plus. Using Entre Plus can be a great deal more convenient than using actual money.

The main reason that people go to coffee shops instead of parties, however, is just to unwind after a long week of studying and to get to know people better. Engineering freshman Bayly Wheeler said she goes to coffee shops instead of parties when she “actually wants to have a conversation with someone.” Parties can be a blast, but it”s much easier to get to know someone if you”re sitting in a relatively quiet place with only him or her than if you”re dancing to loud music in someone”s house with a whole bunch of other people.

Also, getting dressed up is not a requirement for a trip to the coffee shop. Going out with a group of friends to drink some coffee is a different way of relaxing than partying.

It”s ok to skip the party once in a while. It”s ok to get a head start on your homework. It”s ok to get to know your friends better. Heck, it”s even ok to give the coffee shops on central campus some weekend business. Yes, hanging out in a coffee shop on Friday night and playing cards or just talking to your friends sounds a little mundane. But every now and then, it could be just the thing you need to really, truly relax.

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