Coffee Crawl 2011
blog by BuffaloDotCom • February 24, 2011 @ 4:17pm
Full disclosure: I’m a Tim Hortons junkie. It’s not a casual obsession. I actually hold the title “Tim Hortons Biggest Fan in Central New York”—a title I claimed back in 2009 when I was living in Syracuse. And while I’m known for taking multiple Tim trips in a day, I do like to throw my business at smaller coffee shops with local charm. My combined love for coffee and wandering the streets of Buffalo led me on a caffeine-fueled journey, which I *cleverly* dubbed the “Coffee Crawl.”
I bounced around the city in Amber Gold, my trusty bright-as-the-sun metallic gold Ford Focus, on a mission to compile a list of coffee shops. This list is going to be an ongoing project, keep in mind. Yesterday, I just skimmed the surface by hitting up venues mainly in and around Allentown and the Elmwood Village.
SPoT, 227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
Suits and students—that’s how I’d describe the atmosphere at this Buffalo coffee staple. Because of its location, it’s accessible to the downtown 9-to-5 crowd and high school kids looking for a place to hang after the last bell. The vintage furniture contributes to SPoT’s eclectic style. A grande (16 oz.) coffee will run you $1.85. A few perks include optional raw sugar packets, cocoa and vanilla shakers for flavoring your java. Unfortunately for me, my computer refuses to connect to the Internet sometimes. This severely cramps a multimedia content coordinator’s style.
Cafe 59, 59 Allen St., Buffalo
Cute space, lots of seating, free secure wifi. This cafe will be closed the first week of March and will reopen March 7. Upon reopening, the menu will change pretty significantly, an employee told me. For now, Cafe 59 is open for breakfast and lunch (open until 4pm Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday), but there could be a change in hours of operation with the launch of the new menu. I personally like stopping in to work on my computer here because there’s a lot of space, the staff is kind and there’s plenty of sunshine that spills through the windows. I’m a fan of the chai lattes, too.
Cafe Taza, 100 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
I’d never been in this place before, so I had no idea what to expect. It’s tiny. More intimate than “cozy” connotes. This place is strictly coffee with a limited selection of tasty-looking baked goods. There’s no wifi (though you can pick up someone else’s connection if you feel like sticking your middle finger up at the law), no public bathroom and no cards accepted. So bring cash and a wireless card. Also, be prepared to duck out quickly because seating is limited. I counted four chairs, and all but one were occupied. If you’re looking for a frills-free coffee experience, I’d recommend you check this place out. It was truly unlike any other cafe I’d experienced. And the prices were significantly lower than other establishments (coffee was $1.30 and $1.35, no baked goods were priced higher than $2).
Sweet Tooth, 94 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
I first experienced Sweet Tooth a few weeks ago when I interviewed one of the shop’s owners about Valentine’s Day treats. This candy shop-bakery doesn’t even list coffee on its menu, because hot drinks aren’t number one. Desserts are the primary product, and coffee is served by default. But the hot drink selection is pretty extensive, and affordable. A large costs $1.50. The shop also offers some other caffeinated classics like macchiatos, cappuccinos teas ad cocoa. There’s plenty of seating, a great pastry and dessert selection (that is what they do best, after all) and free secure wifi.
Blue Mountain Coffees, 509 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo
I have to give credit to Don from Buffalo Eats for talking up this place on Twitter. I was actually thinking of skipping it because it’s not a “cafe,” per say. It’s a coffee seller. BUT they also sell cups of coffee to go, and it’s great stuff! I talked to the store’s manager James and owner Mary Ann about the coffee for a while. They sell coffee beans—light and dark roasts, decaf, flavored and decaf flavored—and teas of all kinds. Each day they feature a few varieties of freshly brewed coffee, too. The store’s been around for 30 years. I definitely plan on stopping in again, whether I’m justing picking up a to-go cup or exploring the selection of fair trade organic beans for brewing at home. The staff was very friendly and helpful, by the way. In the 20 minutes I spent inside the shop, I learned a lot about coffee. The store is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, to 5 p.m. Saturday, and until 2 p.m. Sunday.
SPoT, 765 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Much like the SPoT location on Delaware, this local favorite offers an outstanding array of hot and cold drinks, creative caffeinated concoctions and delicious baked goods. Unlike the suits-and-students atmosphere on Delaware, this Elmwood Village venue has a more casual vibe. I love hanging out here—always have—and it’s even more inviting since the renovation that more than doubled seating space. On the downside, this place always seemed packed. And it’s no secret that there’s no free pubic wifi (there’s even a sign at the counter admitting the lack of wireless).
Caffe Aroma, 957 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Cute place, and it’s connected to “Talking Leaves” bookstore. It really reminds me of the 1990s bookstore-cafe trend, and I love it. This little corner cafe offers food (pizzas, panini, cookies, cakes, etc.), hot drinks, alcoholic bevvies, wifi (with minimum $1.50 purchase) and a cozy atmosphere. I generally like hanging out here, but so does the rest of the Elmwood Village. With that said, I can almost never find a free seat, let alone two seats when I’m with a friend. The hours of operation are very convenient: 6:30 a.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.
Comfort Zone, 1002 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
It’s practically across the street from Caffe Aroma, but it attracts a much smaller crowd—weird, because it’s like three times the size of Cafe Aroma. Comfort Zone has wifi, serves all sorts of foods and baked goods (most of which are made on premises), and boasts an all-day breakfast menu. Barista Katie informed me that the Comfort Zone trend actually started in Hamburg 13 years ago, and its popularity spurred the owners to open new locations around WNY.
Delish, 802 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Delish isn’t exactly a coffee shop, but it does serve French press brew to order. When cooking class isn’t in session, customers are invited to use the upper level for dining or enjoying a cup of coffee with a sprinkle-doused cupcake. Also, Delish offers a homemade hot chocolate, topped with homemade marshmallows. Definitely not your Swiss Miss cocoa with freeze-dried mini-‘mallow nuggets.