Caffeine Fiend: Café Bassam

Jean Lee

Cafe Bassam embraces the unfamiliar and shames those chain coffee shops we know all too well. Located in a low-key corner of Bankers Hill, it doesn’t conform to the feel of a typical coffee house. Stepping in through the door, you might experience a jumbled time warp, swirling in between flashes of a Diagon Alley shop, an old world tea room and a ’20s gift boutique.

Ambiance reigns here; you’ll find paintings and Russian rifles covering the walls, vintage jewelry in cases next to the register, books and other miscellaneous items stacked up almost to the ceiling (Ollivander would approve), two antique pianos adjacent to a couple of the tables and couches to further cozy up the atmosphere.

The space fills with a mix of Bankers’ locals, SD college students and couples. Studying is doable with its Wi-Fi and a few outlets for laptops. Yes, it can get louder and more cramped than Geisel, but the atmosphere compensates by feeling like the coolest living room in the city.

Coffee choices are traditional — chai lattes seem to be a crowd favorite. The ordering process is refreshingly laid back — just pay when you decide to leave. Night owls will be happy with the closing time: 1 a.m. every day except Sunday, the only day it’s closed. The place is pretty musical, so don’t be surprised if someone decides to play some piano tunes unexpectedly. For a study break, check out Opera nights on the last Wednesday of every month and Tango nights on select nights. (4/5)