Favorite On Campus Coffee Spots: Kathryn x Plein Air Cafe

Favorite On Campus Coffee Spots: Kathryn x Plein Air Cafe

Regardless of whether you've been at UChicago for two and half quarters or are wrapping up your fourth year at the College, you've undoubtedly spent at least some portion of your time here frequenting your favorite on campus coffee shop.

Whether you gravitate towards these places for a quick shot of caffeine, a study break between classes or to meet up with friends, we've decided to feature MODA bloggers as a part of the Blog's ongoing On Campus Coffee Spots series to discover the intersections between campus culture, fashion and of course, caffeine! Keep scrolling for our unique profile on Kathryn Hicks, a first year Chemistry and (potential) Environmental Science double major.

What kinds of RSOs and activities are you involved in on campus? 

I am involved with MODA and write for both the blog and magazine. I also try to attend the weekly Kitchen Sink painting sessions when time allows and am part of a chemistry research group.

Why is Plein Air Cafe your favorite cafe on campus?

Plein Air is hands down my favorite cafe because of the aesthetically pleasing decor, present in every discernible direction. They have beautiful yarn and metal art pieces decorating the walls, hand scripted labels for their pastries and sweets, and a plethora of interesting surfaces (read: marble, rustic wood, and slate gray painted tables) for all your Instagram posting needs. Adjoined to the Seminary Co-op bookstore (a super rad and also aesthetically pleasing bookstore on campus), the cafe attracts many of this campus’s artsy and fashionable students and professors, some who are even more beautiful than the interior design surrounding them. 

How often do you come here?

I typically show up and snuggle in with some work to do get done a couple times a week. Advice to the wise: things do tend to get crowded pretty easily - so if you do get a seat, do not give it up! However, if you are so unfortunate to arrive in the peak of the lunch rush, the Seminary Co-op has some sunny seating to which I have migrated and also been super productive (with many returns to Plein Air for more lattes or snacks). 

What is the best type of activity to do here?

The beauty of Plein Air is how versatile of a setting it is. I’ve done it all here - from reading Descartes while consuming many a chai latte to mingling with friends over brunch and fantasizing about dating the various fluffy haired and bespectacled philosophy students sipping espresso across from me. 

Kathryn 1.jpg

What’s your go-to drink?

Wherever I am, my go-to drink is a chai latte. I can vouch (with much certainty from many taste tests) for the impeccable quality of the Plein Air variety. With their homemade chai, their drink packs more of a deliciously spicy kick when compared to the options at other cafes around campus. If you’re not on the chai craze, you cannot go wrong with any of their espresso or brews, with a wide range from straight espresso to Americano, to drip or pour over brews. 

Best item on the menu?

My tried and true food of choice is the Smoked Turkey Sandwich complete with brie, plum aioli, picked red onion, and arugula (queue salivation!). I am also a big fan of the Savory Meatloaf Tartine topped with mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and marsala gravy with watercress, which is the perfect pairing for that warm food on a rainy day aesthetic. They also have many vegan and vegetarian options which is always a plus! 

What are you wearing?

I often like to escape to Plein Air for a fashion release from the sweatpants and leggings that commonly crowd the campus Quad. The typical cafe-goers here tend to have a slightly elevated, yet still comfortable, fashion vibe going on. I always feel at one with the aesthetically pleasing decor in comfy layers or a cool jacket. 

How would you describe your personal style?

I have always been very bad with creating a smashed-together-group-of-adjectives to describe my style. I wear a lot of neutral colors and black and own far too many vests. I like wearing black boots that make clicking sounds as I walk and am always down for a good turtleneck. Lately, I’ve been super into silk scarves tied around the neck and this very rad black bomber jacket that I recently found at Zara (channeling many flight-attendant and 90’s punk vibes). 

all images via Laden Aksam

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