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Coffee in Albany

I’ve written about coffee for a while, but there has been a substantial change in the coffee options in the past year or so that it’s worth looking at as a whole. Especially since some of what I’ve written in the past is not true anymore.

I drink all my coffee black and have been doing so since 2008, so keep that in mind when reading my recommendations. If you normally add cream or sugar to your coffee, you’re most likely used to drinking coffee that is roasted to hide bad favors rather than highlight the nuanced flavors of each specific coffee. Those who add sugar and/or milk tend to prefer dark roasts, as a light roasted coffee won’t be able to cut through the milk. This “strong coffee” flavor is generally just the flavor of an over roasted coffee bean. Lighter to medium roasted single origin coffee’s goal is usually to bring out certain desirable characteristics of each lot of coffee, and is typically listed on the bags as crazy taste descriptors such as root beer, jasmine tea, prosecco, or guava. Try one sometime.

Cafes

Here are the places I’d recommend getting coffee that have a spot to sit and read a book or chat with a friend.

Superior Merchandise Co., 4th St, Troy

Superior Merchandise bill themselves as a “design shop + coffee bar”. They recently added a bottle bar where you can buy rare Nordic beers to take home, and they also have two beers on tap, a bunch of bottles, cider, and canned wine. In addition to this, they have the strongest coffee program of any shop in the area. Everything from their cheapest batch brew to their $5 signature drinks is considered and well executed. Their coffee comes from select roasters that rotate every few months. They also host coffee classes about brewing with different coffee apparatuses such as the Kalita Wave or Aeropress, and they even bring in extremely rare, pricey coffee from somewhere in Scandinavia once a month for the aptly titled Scandinavian Saturdays.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St (Soon to also be on Broadway)

The focus at Stacks is coffee. They are a multi-roaster shop which is somewhat rare in this area. That means they have many different coffees from many different companies. They have a small selection in their bakery case of goods from local bakers. Their espresso is among the best in the area, and they usually have more than one option ready to go for espresso. It’s typically their house blend espresso as well as single origin or espresso blend from a featured roaster. I’d recommend avoiding the house coffee, and opt for an Americano with either the house espresso or guest espresso, or a pour over if the shop isn’t too busy. As mentioned, they do pour overs on the Wave or Aeropress, iced pour overs, cold brew, macchiatos, etc., and even pumpkin spice lattes if that’s what you’re into.

Lucas Confectionery, 2nd St, Troy

The Lucas Confectionery is a wine bar in Troy. They have Tandem coffee that you can get as a french press, pour over or espresso. I’d recommend avoiding the espresso and instead opting for a french press or pour over. You can also buy bags of whole bean coffee from them. They are currently in the process of opening Little Peck’s, an all day cafe, which right out of the gate should be an extremely strong contender for best shop in the area.

Tierra Coffee Roasters, Madison Ave

Tierra Farms is a big company based in Valatie that mostly makes granolas and roasts nuts, but also roasts their own coffee. On Madison Ave they have a store where you can buy all their bulk nuts, coffee, granola and more. Their store is right next to their cafe, which has a full food menu, beer/wine, and coffee. They do Chemex, cold brew (via Toddy and Hario tower), standard drip coffee, and all the flavored lattes you can dream of. Tierra coffee is not as much of a specialty coffee house as they are a nice cafe that happens to roast their own coffee decently.

I can not in good faith recommend Hudson River Coffee House, Delaware Trolley House, Emack and Bolio’s, Bonobo, Stagecoach Coffee, Iron Gate, Mug Shots, or Daily Grind solely for their coffee.

Beans

If you’re a nerd like me and make your fussy coffee at home, there’s plenty of spots to grab a bag of high quality, freshly roasted beans and not have to pay for shipping.

Brew, Lark St

Brew is a craft beverage shop on Lark St that mainly sells craft beer. They also sell Tandem Coffee, Stumptown, Intelligentsia and more by the bag. They also have coffee brewing supplies such as Chemex, Aeropress and french presses. In the summer they have cold brew by the cup, and hot coffee by the cup all the time.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St

They have a few shelves of coffee (and brewing supplies) from a revolving selection of roasters, as well as their house-roasted coffee, which I would avoid.

Superior Merchandise Co, 4th St, Troy

Always stocked with fresh bags from whatever roasters they currently have on bar. You can try a cup of each before buying your bag via pourover if that’s what you’re into.

Tierra Coffee, Madison Ave

They have a million different kinds of coffee for sale in their retail store. I would stick to the single origin options listed as light roast only. My last bag of their blonde blend has been closer to a Full City Roast (while listed as light), which shows a massive quality control issue, so proceed with extreme caution.

If you are looking to make your own fussy coffee at home, you can do so easily via pourover or using an SCAA certified machine with fresh coffee, a good burr grinder, and a way to make water hot.

Last updated: May 25, 2016

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Upcoming at SMCo.

SMCo. has a few events in the works, and they’re all in the next few days.

• Tomorrow, May 25: Peaer, Better Pills, Thomas Quinttus, Russel the Leaf: Lo-fi, alternative, indie, rock.

• Friday, May 27: TNO with Erik Savage: Maybe Someday, Probably Not reception. With live music 8-10pm from Rechorderoys, Carl Daniels, and Yellow Teeth.

• Sunday, May 29: Turntables + Bagels with DJ Tall Ass Matt: Boogie your hangover away.

Click the titles of the events above to find out more. Mark your calendar and bring a friend.

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2016 Alive at Five Lineup Announced

Mayor Sheehan announced the 2016 location and lineup for this year’s Alive at Five. The location has moved to Broadway at Tricentennial Park due to construction at the Corning Preserve.

The lineup is as follows:

June 9: Dr. John & The Nite Trippers with Jocamo

June 16: The Joy Formidable with Good Fiction

June 23: Tony! Toni! Tone! with Tameka Amar

June 30: The Chronicles (As Earth Wind And Fire) with Thump Gospel (As Michael Jackson)

July 14: Enter The Haggis with Hair Of The Dog

July 21: Bloc Party with Titanics

July 28: Locash with Skeeter Creek

August 4: Molly Hatchet with Tumbleweed Highway

For more info head to albanyevents.org

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Berben and Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen opening Tuesday

Berben and Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen will be opening it’s doors for a soft opening on Tuesday May 17 at 227 Lark Street.

Berben and Wolff’s have been supplying the seitan to local restaurants such as New World, The Ruck, Madison Cafe, and more for a while and I’m incredibly excited for them to have their own space. I’m also excited for other restaurants to start to compete in the vegan space as well as the “actually make something good and/or take some risks” space. (Side note: The Ruck, a very unlikely bar to cater to vegans has added a ton of great items to their menu in the recent past that are vegan, and are often sold out from demand.)

Their opening menu looks incredibly good, and includes items such as a popcorn mushroom po’ boy, a seitan philly, a cuban sandwich, bbq jackfruit and much more.

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Head to the Berben and Wolff Facebook page to stay in the loop.

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Science Cafe at City Beer Hall

The New York State Musesum has set up another installment of Science Cafe at The City Beer Hall for May 12 (that’s tomorrow).

Let’s Toast to Evolution! with Dr. Lisa Amati- State Paleontologist, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology

Grab a drink and join a rousing conversation about evolution at the City Beer Hall in Albany, NY. This fun, interactive activity is free.

I know a ton of people into beer and science, and this is a dream event for them. If that’s you, mark you calendar for tomorrow. If that’s not you, tell that friend of yours about this event! Or maybe you want to impress your Tinder date. For more info, head to the event page.

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Fort Orange General Store to close mid-June

The wonderful team (and friends of mine) behind the Fort Orange General Store posted to their blog that they will be closing the store mid-June.

It is a bittersweet moment today that we announce that as of mid-June, we are saying goodbye to our beloved neighborhood shop, Fort Orange General Store. Keep an eye out for an announcement of our last official day, yet to be determined. You can be assured that the decision to move on was not easy, and was not due to lack of community support. Quite the contrary, Fort Orange was a successful and warmly welcomed venture from the start. For that, we thank you all!

Be sure to give the short post a full read through, stop by soon, and if you know anyone who may be seriously interested in buying the store, have them get in touch.

My thanks to Katy, Caroline, and everyone else involved with FOGS for a great run of an incredible asset to my neighborhood, and the area as a whole.