Why Studying at a Cafe feels so Productive

Why Studying at a Cafe feels so Productive

Victor Young



  • when you're surrounded by others - science says it's motivating
  • a change in your work space freshens things up and breaks up the same old monotony
  • caffeine helps... big time
Okay so if you want to dive deeper into the science and possible reasons why your cafe study sessions just feel... better? This article is for you.

the science behind study cafe sessions

‍It starts with caffeine. No doubt it's a boost in alertness & productivity. And speaking from personal experiences, I think it's really because we've developed the habit & association of coffee or tea with focus. And, it's the ASMR. Well not ASMR; it's the ambience, noise and the chitter chatter. But there's a certain level of noise that's been demonstrated to be the most optimal - between 50-70dB to be exact. We knew this noise level was important! That's why we provide the quietness scale as part of our Study Spot Finder. Okay so what's NOT an optimal level of noise?
If you're wondering why studying in a cafe can be beneficial, it's because there’s actually science behind it. Unlike libraries, cafes offer a chill atmosphere with just the right amount of noise to stimulate our brains without being too distracting [1]. The background cafe chatter and the smell of freshly brewed coffee act as mild stimulants that help us stay alert and engaged. Think of it as a mixture of white noise and brown noise.

‍A change in study space

new Place, new Vibes

New places make your brain happy. No joke, your brain releases this thing called dopamine when you're in a new spot. It's like a "feel-good" hormone that helps you focus better. Science calls this the "novelty factor," and it's your brain's way of saying, "Hey, thanks for the change!" 🧠✨

context matters for memory

Ever notice how you remember stuff better when you think about where you learned it? That's called "context-dependent memory." Your brain uses the place as a cue to help you remember stuff. So, more places mean more memory cues. It's like your brain's own cheat sheet. 📚

sensory boost

New places have new smells, new sounds, and new sights. All these new sensory inputs wake up your brain. It's like your brain's own version of a sensory playground, keeping you alert and on your toes. 🎢

group study: the hawthorne effect

When you're in a café, and everyone's working, it kinda makes you wanna work too, right? That's called the Hawthorne Effect. It's like a group study session, but you don't even have to talk to anyone. It's the science of "if they can do it, so can I." 🎧

‍and the atmosphere of the study space matters too

Atmosphere and the whole vibe matters. Depending on what you're studying or working on, a cozy and chill set up might be better. Or maybe if you're doing creative stuff, you might want to hear the chitter and chatter of a cafe. Or be surrounded by nature and leafy greens when planning and goal setting. You might be catching onto the trend here. It's alot to do with your emotional state, mood and ultimately preferences. So chances are you already know what type of vibe you're looking for. That's why we've categorised it for you through the Study Spot app.

‍music & productivity is legit

It's a huge topic in itself, but let me try and break it down in the most simple way.
Choose music that works with your emotional state
  • Emotional state is basically what you feel, and music can augment how you feel
  • If you're looking to get into deep work, you might lean into classical lofi - go for it
  • If you're looking to feel more creative and inspired - find a playlist that helps you get in the mood Basically, find playlist that suits what type of mood and work you're doing. Now we've taken note of this and for every cafe we visit we categorise what kind of music they play. Of course you can bring your own headphones, but it's always handy to know what they're playing at cafes.
‍ This is all we have so far and we'll be on the constant lookout for more reasons why studying at a cafe feels... better.
If you haven't heard already, we do have an app for study cafes in Australia. Just filter to what you like to find the best spots! Oh and you'll also be able to access Study Spot exclusive discounts too :)
Happy creating & tinkering everyone!