The 5 Best Coffee Shops to Study at in Missoula

Whether you’re a student at the University of Montana, an entrepreneur working to get a proposal together, or a business professional who needs the perfect place to meet with clients, these are the 5 best places to get whatever it is you need to get done in Missoula. Based on quality of coffee, Wi-Fi, and overall environment: Is your favorite coffee shop on the list?

Liquid Planet

7:30am-9:00pm, Everyday

Picture of the Liquid Planet storefront in downtown Missoula
Photo Credit: Liquid Plant

The first place I ever “studied” at in Missoula was a wonderful place called Liquid Planet. I think the name speaks for itself, and while the Wi-Fi connection has thankfully increased in reliability and strength over the years, the beverage selection has always been top quality. Great coffee and tea for any taste bud, and a wide variety of other beverages to shop around for, all make Liquid Planet a must-frequent venue if you are a Missoulian. Plus, there is a secret area in the back corner you can reserve for meetings or for studying in peace.

Market on Front

7:00am-9:00pm, Monday-Saturday
8:00am-7:00pm, Sunday

A visual of the unique seating area in Market on Front
Photo Credit: Market on Front

Relatively new and closer to campus, the Market on Front offers more than just coffee and a place to sit. It’s a one-stop-shop with a little grocery section and delicious prepared foods. Great quality Wi-Fi with limited seating makes a fan of this place hope that they are looking to expand in the near future. If you are looking to impress a client from out of town, this is the place to do it. And if you’re lucky, the owner may be around to deliver your mouth watering Chicken Florentine sandwich to you within minutes of ordering (this has happened to me on more than one occasion.)

City Brew Coffee

5:30am-9:30pm, Monday-Saturday
6:00am-9:30pm, Sunday
Downtown location closes at 9:00pm

View from the outside of the City Brew Coffee downtown Missoula location
Photo Credit: City Brew Coffee

Before conducting my research, City Brew Coffee never crossed my mind as a place to study in Missoula because honestly I had never been there before. Considered one of the coffee shops with high quality of coffee, City Brew will literally keep your mind (and your taste buds) happy. The variety in seating, relaxing music, and calming decorative colors will keep you focused for hours. If you find that it is difficult to get a parking spot downtown, try their new location off of Brooks! Plenty of room to park and an amazing fire place to cozy up by. Not to mention a very friendly staff.

Break Espresso

6:00am-10:00pm, Everyday

View from the outside of Break Espresso in downtown Missoula
Photo Credit: Sabrina Huang

This seems to be everyone’s favorite place to “get stuff done”. Break Espresso’s main selling point is not it’s coffee, but the seemingly unlimited amount of seating, reliable Wi-Fi, and baked goods are it’s irresistible combo. This place is always busy, so bring your headphones, grab a piece of pie, and get your productivity on!

Zootown Brew

8:00am-8:00pm, Monday-Friday
9:00am-8:00pm, Saturday
1:00pm-8:00pm, Sunday
Open until 10:00pm during Finals Week!

View of the outside of Zootown Brew in downtown Missoula
Photo Credit: Zootown Church

I went through a phase where I would only meet for group projects at Zootown Brew. There is plenty of seating (as well as comfy couches), and it’s so spacious that there is enough privacy to actually discuss your work with a group. Quality Wi-Fi and a hot coffee will keep you happy while you work. And when the caffeine finally runs out, you’ll have a perfectly comfy couch to go and relax on. After all that hard work you put in, you deserve it!

Honorable Mention: Florence Coffee Co.

6:00am-6:00pm, Everyday

View from the outside of one of Florence Coffee's locations
Photo Credit: Florence Coffee Co.

Technically, you can’t sit at the drive through and do your homework. The person behind you may get mad when you don’t move after 5 minutes. But I couldn’t create a list of Missoula coffee shops without mentioning the best coffee in town. If you’d rather study at the library, at home, or at work, swing by one of Florence Coffee’s three locations in Missoula and get a coffee on the go. My suggestion for coffee lovers with a sweet tooth: The Heaven Latte. The name says it all.


Did I miss your favorite study spot? Let me know by commenting below. Now, go get stuff done!

Photo Credit: KeepCalmomatic
Photo Credit: KeepCalmomatic


A special thanks to everyone who provided their input in my research, and most especially: Jessie Rogers, Savannah Witt, Paytyn Wheeler, Katherine Vincent, Brooke Moody, and Joelle.

8 Things You Forget To Consider While Apartment Hunting


The majority of people live in an apartment at some point in their life. Whether you are single and just want a low maintenance place to live, or you and your family are building a house and need a short term place to stay, or live in a big city and apartments are the best way to live in the city.

  No matter what your reason, you are going to come across a large amount of differently structured apartment complexes and it’s hard to know what to really think about when you see a bunch of places in a short amount of time.

  As a leasing consultant of an apartment complex I see a bunch of things that come into play when trying to get a prospect to choose our property. So I have decided to make a list of some of the things I have personally seen people fail to think about, whether they just didn’t take the time to, or whether they just didn’t know how much they valued certain things. These are things to think about when looking at apartments.


Apartment Amenities
What amenities would you like to have access to?

What amenities do they have? Do they have a pool? Garden area? Fitness Center? Or tanning beds? Some complexes are so state of the art it’s incredible! Take this into consideration though. When they give you all of these extra facilities… the price of the apartment is going to be higher. This can be good though. Whether it’s the gas you save from not driving the kiddos to the pool every day because you have one at your complex, or if you can cancel your fitness center membership or tanning cards! The costs cancel each other out. Just take it into consideration before turning up your nose at a price. Also think about the times that the amenities are open, is it 24 hours? Or do they close after 7? If the amenities are important to you, you want to make sure that they are open at times of your benefit so you can actually get some use out of them.


Apartment layouts
Do you like the bedrooms close together or on opposite ends?

How is the apartment laid out? Does it include all of the appropriate appliances? Are the bedrooms next to each other or far apart? Which do you prefer? What’s the square footage, and how did the architect utilize it? Is there sufficient storage? If it’s in the summer make sure to check out what kind of heat it has, and in the winter make sure it has an air-conditioner. Might not be the thing you are thinking about when it’s below zero out. All these things may slip your mind once you get into the apartment because the nice finishes and good views could distract you, but they are important to keep in mind. Also think about the lay out of the property, and where you want to be located on the property.

3. PETS 

Apartments that allow pets
Breed restrictions?

If you are a pet owner this is an obvious obstacle that you have probably faced before. However, there are things you need to think about besides the extra deposit and pet rent. If there is a courtyard at your complex, how strict are they about cleaning up after your pet? Some places will fine you if they catch you not cleaning up after Fido. Also ask about leash rules, what happens if your dog barks a lot, or what areas they are allowed to be in. Most importantly, the move out process. The goal of apartment living is obviously to get your entire deposit back. If you have a pet, that can be much harder. I can’t begin to explain the number of carpets we replace, even though the resident claims that her 3 Chihuahuas never peed in the house…once. They will have it cleaned professionally, and think that no one will know. Wrong. We will tear that carpet out so quickly and the crystallized urine will be all the evidence we need to lawfully make you pay for the carpet. No matter how hard you try to fight it. So just don’t even try… I promise you wont win that one.


Apartments and the parking they offer
Free parking?

What’s the parking situation? Because you will be touring the complex during the day when most people are at work, the parking lot looks empty and spacious, which might not be the case at 6 at night when everyone is home. Are there carports or garages? Does every apartment get a space or do you have to pay for numbered parking? Or is it just first come first serve free parking. Also remember to ask how many cars are allowed per apartment. That way you can factor in other costs if you have to find storage for extra vehicles. Be sure to ask if they tow, and under what circumstances do they tow. Also, if you decide to move in, make sure to give as much detailed information about your vehicle to the office. That way, if you are parked in a wrong spot, they can try to reach you before having to tow your car.


Apartments that have on-site staff
What are the perks of having an onsite staff?

You might not think that this is an important part of the process but it can be. In apartment complexes, you have your own staff. While they are there to do a lot of things, they are there to help you out. Locking yourself out of an apartment isn’t as big of a deal. They will keep your packages so they don’t sit on your doorstep while you are out-of-town. They know what’s going on at the complex, and quickly fix problems and sort out conflicts. Knowing who is all a part of the staff can be helpful. Also it can give you an idea of how the property is run. How many maintenance workers are there? And what hours are they available? Do they have 24-hour emergency maintenance available? You might not think of this as important until your pipes burst in the middle of the night and you can’t get ahold of anyone to help you.


Apartments and their lease laws
What does my state require to break a lease?

This is SO important. Every state has different laws. It’s very important to know yours. It helps you notice flaws in leases as well as gives you an idea of what your rights are, as well as what they aren’t. The biggest thing that I run into as a Leasing Consultant is when people try to break their leases. In Montana it is against the law to buy out or just forfeit the deposit. You are legally obligated to pay the full length of your lease unless you can find someone else to re-rent it or hand over the keys and hope that your property can re-rent it in a quickly manner. However, in some other states, you can just pay them an extra months rent and leave no problem.

Why shouldn’t I trust apartment reviews?

I absolutely use reviews for everything! But you need to be careful when looking at reviews for an apartment complex. From my experience, it’s pretty rare that people write good reviews for apartments just because. However, its extremely common for people to write bad reviews about them if something didn’t work out to their favor. Most reviews about apartments are submitted after something unfavorable has happened. And most of the time, it’s not the properties fault, and the person is just venting or trying to retaliate. However, if the property has hundreds of reviews that are all negative, its okay to make an assumption that something isn’t right. My advice is to just check it out your self, first, and talk to some of the residents that currently live there. Don’t let the reviews give you a biased opinion before you see it.


Apartment specials and incentives
What kind of specials can I take advantage of?

One thing that I never realized happened until I worked for an apartment complex was that the give specials and other concessions. So make sure to always ask about specials! Things that have been given out since I have worked at my job include things like 1 month free amortized for your lease, free X-box or PS4, mounted flat screen TVs, 99$ deposits, or even waived application fees. Anything is something! Chances are that the complex will advertise the specials and they should tell you about them when you tour the property, but just in case they don’t always remember to ask!

Obviously, some people aren’t going to care about the amenities, or don’t have pets. These things wont apply to everyone. But you should be thinking of at least some of them. My advice would be to make a wish list of things you want out of your apartment. Make it realistic. If it has to do with location in a popular area, be prepared to pay more. Also have a few things that you want, but can cross off if you have to.
Check what the market is like. Apartment complexes will change their prices as the market changes. So see what people are paying on average per square foot. This will make you set reasonable expectations for everything that you want in an apartment.
I tell my prospects to really start looking around 45 days before their move-in date. That way you can find the layout you want on the property you want. For example, my property will hold an apartment for 30 days if you’ve applied and been approved. Once we find a suitable apartment we’ll draw up the lease and once its signed we can hold the apartment so that you don’t have to pay until the day you move in. This is extremely helpful for people who are moving from out-of-state, or can’t afford double rent.

The chances of you finding an apartment that fits everything on your wish list is slim. But with enough knowledge you should be able to find one that you are proud to call home.

A Guide To March Madness Bracketology!!

Every year, in March, when the college basketball brackets are released, there are people all over the country analyzing teams and players, trying to fill out the perfect bracket. There is no record that a person has ever filled out a perfect bracket. There is no sure fire method to the madness, but here is a guide that can help you make intelligent decisions when it comes time to fill out your bracket.

1st Round

           (Technically it is the 2nd Round, but for clarity we will be referring to it as the 1st Round since it is the 1st Round in the bracket)

1 Seed vs. 16 Seed

A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Division One Basketball Tournament. This is not a bet that you will want to make, take every 1 seed to the 2nd round. A 1 seed makes it into the sweet sixteen 88% of the time and the elite eight 71% of the time.

2 Seed vs. 15 Seed

A 15 seed has beaten a 2 seed seven times in history. This rarity is a possibility and has happened three times in the past three years. In 2012, Norfolk State beat Missouri and Lehigh beat Duke, then in 2013 Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown en route to the sweet sixteen being the only team to ever be in the sweet sixteen as a 15 seed. It is still a huge gamble and probably shouldn’t be done unless you have some very strong evidence that it is a possibility.

3 Seed vs. 14 Seed

Only eighteen times in history has a 14 seed beaten a 3 seed. If you are trying to win your bracket pool this risk might not pay off unless there is a strong contender against a team that has possibly been overrated. Just recently, in 2014, Mercer beat Duke and in 2013 Harvard beat New Mexico. If you pick all of the 1, 2, and 3 seeds to advance to the next round your bracket will be looking pretty good!

4 Seed vs. 13 Seed

A 13 seed has beaten the 4 seed twenty-five times in the history of the NCAA Division One Basketball Tournament. In the last ten years there have been nine, 13seeds that have beaten the 4 seed, so keep this in mind if you are looking to pick a 1st round upset. However, since there are four 1st round games, where a 4 seed plays the 13 seed, the challenge is figuring out which game is it going to happen in, if it happens at all. In 2014 not one 13 seed beat a 4 seed, although in 2013 LaSalle defeated Kansas State in a stunning upset.

5 Seed vs. 12 Seed

Now this is where the madness happens folks. There have been forty-two times that a 5 seed has beaten a 12 seed. Since the year 2000 at least one 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed every year except for in 2007. Unbelievably in 2013 and 2014, three of the four 12 seeds advanced to the 2nd round. This definitely seems like a gamble that could pay off. It is almost a guarantee that at least one 12 seed will advance and this is where watching a lot of College ball pays off. The last three years have been particularly impressive with 12 seeds posting an 8-4 record. SFA moved on to the 2nd round last year as a 12 seed and is once again a 12 seed this year. They might be a team worth taking to the 2nd round. Notably, Montana beat Nevada to advance in 2006.

6 Seed vs. 11 Seed

Surprisingly only forty-one 11 seeds have beaten a 6 seed, which is one less than the 12 seeds that have beaten 5 seeds. In the last ten years at least one 11 seed has advanced to the next round every year. Most recently in 2014, Dayton beat Ohio State and Tennessee beat UMASS.

7 Seed vs. 10 Seed

The 10 seed has beaten a 7 seed fifty-seven times in history, which is about 40% of the time. It is a bit of a toss up on whether to pick the 10 seed or the 7 seed. It is best, in this situation, to not base your pick on rankings but to instead pay attention to who you think has been a strong contender through out the regular season.

8 Seed vs. 9 Seed

You will be hard pressed to find a harder decision while filling out your bracket than whether to pick the 8 or the 9 seed to advance. An 8 seed beats the 9 seed 52% of the time. Even though the 8 seed seems to have a slight advantage, this match up is virtually a toss up. You should base your picks on is a team has had a really hot player or finished their season really strong. Rankings seem to have little to no predictability when it comes to the 8 and 9 seed.

Additional Facts That May Help You

Like I stated earlier, a 1 seed makes the sweet sixteen 88% of the time, 2 seeds make the sweet sixteen 68% of the time, 3 seeds make the sweet sixteen 60% of the time and the 4 seeds make the sweet sixteen 58% of the time.

The last five times that Georgetown has been in the tournament, they have lost to a team ranked at least five spots worse than they were. So they could be one team to choose for an upset against Eastern Washington.

Although all of the 1 seeds are a heavy favorite, there has only been one year in history, 2008, that all of the 1 seeds made the final four. Only six times in history has the championship game featured two 1 seeds. Only three times in history, most recently in 2011, has a final four not featured a 1 seed.

Among active coaches in the NCAA tournament this year, Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski has won 4 championships, followed by Louisville’s coach Rick Patino and North Carolina’s coach Roy Williams and they have both won two. Other active coaches in the tournament that have won a championship include SMU’s Larry Brown, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kansas’s Bill Self.

A 1 seed has won the championship five of the last six years. A 2 seed has not won a National Championship since 2004.

A 5 seed has never won a National Championship. Only four times in history has the winner of the National Championship been worse than a 4 seed, in 2014 Connecticut as a 7 seed, in 1988 Kansas as a 6 seed, in 1985 Villanova as a 8 seed and in 1983 North Carolina State as a 6 seed.

A 12 seed or worse has never made the final four and has only once made the elite eight, which happened when 12 seed Missouri made it in 2002.

Of the teams in this years NCAA tournament, nineteen of the sixty-eight teams have won a National Championship in their school history. UCLA has won eleven championships, Kentucky has won eight and North Carolina and Indiana have both won five National Championships.

Although Kentucky is a heavy favorite, only three times in the last twenty years has the topped ranked team in the country won it all. However the last time it happened was in 2012 and Kentucky was ranked #1 and won the tournament, so there is a good chance that they will do it again this year.

What follows is a link to where you can go to print off a bracket. There are so many outlets out there where you can enter into bracket pools that you should have ample opportunity to have some fun this march madness season. I hope this breakdown of odds will help you when making your predictions. Good Luck!!

Heavy Printable Bracket





8 Great St. Patrick’s Day Treats to Help You Celebrate!

Pasties, punches, puppy chow oh my!! With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner it is time to start thinking about what tasty treats you are going to indulge in while celebrating the Irish! Here are just a few ideas and recipes to make your St. Patrick’s Day as festive as ever.

To start the day out:

Irish Soda Bread Muffins


Find recipe here

Irish Breakfast Wrap



Find recipe here

Now it’s time for lunch:

Irish Nachos


Find recipe here

Irish Pasties


Find recipe here

Dinner Time!:

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

photo (1)


Find recipe here

Slow Cooker Lamb and Stout Roast


Find recipe here

Aaaaaaand Dessert:

Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake


Find recipe here

Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes


Find recipe here


“Kiss Me I’m Irish” Tini



Irish Flag





How to (Financially) Cheat Your Way Through College

By Katie Sears

If you’re anything like me (a woefully and eternally poor college student), you know that not even JC himself could make you pay $160 for that textbook or $9 for that cocktail. Or maybe you’re the parent of a student like me who only calls to chat when they need something. Something green. Preferably with Benjamin Franklin’s face on it. Or, maybe you’re one of the lucky few who miraculously managed to trick an employer into hiring you right out of college (we’re all glaring at you, btw) but don’t have the funds to relocate. Either way, there is no denying we’re all in need of some sound financial advice now and then.

Although I am a meager marketing major who struggles to fill out her 1040 EZ tax form, I am exceptionally proficient at keeping my wallet from hating me (too much). When it comes to penny-pinching and being cheap to the point of embarrassment, this isn’t my first rodeo.

Here are my tips and tricks for getting through college with just enough money leftover to take your SO out to Chipotle. 

Get two for the price of one
Commonly known as ‘Two for Ones’, this is a promotional deal where you can get two drinks for the price of one. It is also a lifestyle. Granted, the drinks are smaller and contain (what I’ve decided) is far more ice than usual, so who knows if we’re really getting a deal. It’s the thought that counts, right?
big storm

Find that loophole
Here’s a lesser known fact: McDonald’s charges a small fee for dining in as opposed to ordering to go. So, order to go then eat in. So what if the charge is only 10 cents, I’m in college remember?
help me im poor

Avoid the campus bookstore like the Plague
Three words for you: Amazon Book Rental. Seriously. Never forget it. One semester I paid $600 for textbooks from the University bookstore. This semester? $75. BAM.

Dorm it up
If you are coming to college as a freshman, try to live in the dorms. Not only will you have 40 friends willing to give you emergency Ramen, but there is usually a ‘donate’ or Goodwill box on each floor. I’m pretty sure half of my clothes came from that box. As well as a lamp. And a rug. And a fridge. Which brings me to my next point…
treat yo self

Once you lose the luxury of living three feet away from another sweaty human being, the dorms are the number one place to scour through on freshman move-out day. Freshmen don’t yet realize the realities of not having a meal plan and will throw away just about anything.
bob ross

Turn your coffee into money
One of my ex-boyfriends did (what I used to think was) the most horrendous thing: he re-used the coffee grounds in the pot for days on end. Turns out, he was just being brilliantly economical.

Part ways with your plasma
If you haven’t given plasma yet at BioLife, you’re truly missing out on a chance to save the world. Or just pay your rent. Whatever.
Get creative
Most adults use tables as, well, tables. And desks as, um, desks. But in college that just won’t do. My roommate and I use a mini-fridge as an end table. I have a crate that I use for a bedside table. A friend of mine once used cinderblocks and an old door as a desk. Waste not, want not.
Free + Food = True Love
One thing I discovered early on in my college career was that free food rules all. Join clubs you’re not interested in, attend lame campus events and talks. Free food is like a beacon of light in the darkness that is your grocery bill.

Invest in your Netflix relationship
Most people get the completely wrong idea about the first week of classes, especially freshman. While it is common practice to spend this time meeting new people, what you should really be doing is meeting new Netflix accounts. Friendship only lasts so long, free Netflix is forever.
could you not be here
Oh, Canada!
My last and most ingenious idea is something I have been doing ever since I went to Canada three years ago. When paying in change, I use Canadian dimes instead of American ones. No one has ever noticed and although I’m technically losing money thanks to exchange rates, I figure I won’t be going back to Canada anytime soon.