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.
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.
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.