What place comes to my mind whenever I get some free time from suffocating school papers and endless turning of textbook pages (that weigh about as much as an old-school desktop computer)? Whew—that being said, my answer is Monks!

One of the most interesting things about Monks Coffee Shop, located at 233 Cypress St., is that you never know what to expect other than an escape from the norm of leisure time. Sure, you can still participate in that same coffee shop atmosphere that you find in other shops, but what sets Monks apart from other conventional coffee shops is that “chill time” feel that enshrouds you as soon as you step into what looks like a room inspired by the cast of “That 70s Show.” When that familiar coffee bean smell sweeps past you as you walk up to the coffee bar— you can’t help but scan the room for a place to let loose and enjoy your drink or snack all while in the heart of downtown Abilene.

Monks has much more to offer than just spotlight art, drinks and snacks. Take a seat on a couch and break with friends for a game of “Apples to Apples” and direct their attention to the small stage where many local, independent favorites, as well as instrumentalists from infamous bands such as, The Dave Matthews Band, perform for their following. The last Monks concert that I checked out left me purchasing several iTunes songs; I just couldn’t get the instrumentals out of my head.

Looking for your chance to be in the spotlight? Look no further than Monks on Thursday nights for “Open Mic Night,” usually beginning at 9 p.m. They also host “Jazz Night @ Monks” most Tuesday nights beginning at 8:30 p.m. featuring combos from ACU.

Grab some friends, guitar, game board— or even your study materials if you prefer—and sit back and surround yourself with the sound of coffee beans grinding coupled with the anticipating noise of a local favorite’s mic check and discover why Monks is truly a different coffee shop experience. For more information, call 325- 437-2984.