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Democracy in Action at Java U

Posted by Emily / January 11, 2008

Next to the cash register at the new branch of Java U on Sherbrooke, there are two mugs; one labeled “Clinton”, the other, “Obama.” As the waitress handed me my biscotti, I asked her the meaning of the mugs. She said they were for tips, so customers could “vote” for one candidate or another. I asked who was winning.

Clinton. That would have put me off my biscotti, if that biscotti hadn’t been so yummy.

It looked just like the biscotti at Second Cup, with one end dipped in milk chocolate and the other in white chocolate. But it tasted much moister and fresher than Second Cup’s, and it had a stronger almond flavor. I barely needed to dip it in anything.

The biscotti isn’t the only difference between Java U and Second Cup. I’ve always thought of Second Cup as the kind of place where you can spend hours reading and munching on snacks in big cushy chairs without being disturbed (although there are huge variations between branches). Java U seems more conducive to a quick, restorative break at the end of a long day. In contrast to Second Cup’s living-room furniture, Java U has a more modern aesthetic, with comfy but boxy benches and no big cushy chairs.

The music, on the other hand, at least on the night of my first visit, was decidedly retro. My friend and I had quite a nice time sipping our hot drinks and happily humming along to “Rico Suave.”

As fun as my flashback to ’91 was, I must say that the real draw to Java U was the promise of dessert. According to my friend, Java U gets its cakes and pies from the same magical factory of pleasure that makes the desserts found at Calories. After a pleasant dinner at Café L’Etranger (review coming soon) my dining buddy found herself in need of some Reese’s Pieces cake, and was kind enough to offer me a few bites.

Is it me or has this cake gotten better? The last time I tried it, I found it much too sweet and not nearly peanut buttery enough. This time, the layer of peanut butter perfectly offset the sweetness from the middle of the cake. And with the intense chocolate cookie crust, it was like eating an Oreo dipped in peanut butter… hm, that’s not a bad idea.

I’ll definitely be heading back to Java U sometime in the near future. Not only do I need to sample more of the desserts, I also have to vote in the presidential mug poll.

Java U
Corner of Sherbrooke and Union



djou / January 11, 2008 at 08:33 am
that biscotti sounds intriguing... too bad i can't eat chocolate...
emily / January 11, 2008 at 10:08 am
solution: just eat the white chocolate part;).
Melanie / January 11, 2008 at 10:09 pm
I also prefer Java U to Second Cup. Sometimes I study at Second Cup out of convenience, but there are too many alternatives with just-as-comfy chairs to bother with them anymore. Although there is no peanut butter cake, I have taken to studying at the Starbucks at the Eaton Center these days, it's surprisingly comfortable.
Marcus / January 12, 2008 at 10:48 am
A hot drink, a comfy chair and loads of sweets. Sounds alright, unless you are going to this cafe looking for good coffee because the espressos, cappuccinos and lattes come out of a vending machine.

The food is overpriced too. They don't come close to the prices that Second Cup puts on the exact same stuff.

But buying food that comes from a factory doesn't sound appealing to a lot people anyway, so go to the opposite corner of that block -- Cafe ArtJava at University and President-Kennedy makes their own sandwiches, salads and actual coffee!
french panic / January 15, 2008 at 11:45 am
eeeeeeeeek! Cutesy labels for tip jars make me turn around and run away. Far, far away. Tip jars have no class! Tip jars that are labelled with two unappealing "choices" should be knocked over and their contents scattered to the wind. Yuck.
Missing Montreal / February 1, 2008 at 08:28 pm
The Reese's cake, along with a lot of other cakes, are made by a company called Dawn's Desserts ( You'll actually see her cakes everywhere in the city especially at Calories in Westmount. Anyway, yes that cake is so freaking good, but Java U? Too cold for me thanks.
9to5er / February 13, 2008 at 08:50 pm
Wow, I haven't been to Java U since I graduated a long time ago, it looks like they are getting more and more classy with their food.
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