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The laptop hobo’s guide to coffee shops in Western New York

Author: CJ Maurer

Three years ago I left my job at an advertising agency for a virtual consulting gig. That’s a fancy way of saying I don’t have an office. Well, I have an office at home. It’s pretty nice, actually. But I can’t stay there long or I start to feel like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption when he’s sentenced to a month in “the hole.” That’s what happens when you’re a hard-core extrovert.

If you find yourself in a similar situation you may want to consider coffee shops. They usually have chairs and tables. And bathrooms. And wifi. You can meet people there or just hammer away on your laptop in solitude (like I’m doing right now). They also serve coffee and food.

People often say to me, “It must be so cool making your own schedule and working wherever you want.” And while that’s true, the lifestyle of a coffee shop nomad isn’t always so glamorous. We fight like gladiators for tables within a cord’s reach of a power outlet. We get interrupted by friends and acquaintances. We have to go to our cars to make important phone calls. We have to ask strangers to please watch our stuff when we have to get up and tinkle. The wifi isn’t always reliable. Our wardrobes reek of coffee. Even the Hollywood fairytale of the barista knowing your name and regular order is a little depressing on some levels.

But we’re not going anywhere. Onward we march through the good times and bad. This is our espresso-stained badge of honor. Low and behold, more and more people pledge allegiance to our little tribe every day.

I can’t claim to be an expert in much, but coffee shops in Western New York is most assuredly one of them. This is me. Boiled down to the essence. The steak without the A-1 sauce.

But these days are numbered. My company is aggressively searching for its first “real” office space. I realize this announcement comes as a surprise to many people and I apologize if it makes it harder to love me. Trust me, this isn’t easy. But the time has come to bestow the aromatic, porcelain throne of coffee shop kingdom to its next rightful heirs.

And that brings me to today.

If you know a coffee shop in the 716, I’ve probably been there. More than once. I’ve surveyed the terrain. I’ve observed the life forms. And now — like Meriwether Louis and William Clark — I offer my findings to assist you in your travels.

This is the laptop hobo’s guide to coffee shops in Western New York.

A coffee shop is typically chosen first for its location. You need to find a place close to home. You have 90 minutes to kill before your next meeting. You live in the northtowns and are trying to schedule a meeting with a fellow nomad coming from the southtowns — and since no reasonable northtowner would dare venture south of Walden Ave, you’re researching a good place to meet in the middle.

Once you’ve zeroed in on your location, there are several other factors to consider.

  • Am I meeting someone else?
  • Am I meeting a group of 4 people or more?
  • Will I need wifi?
  • Do I need it to be (relatively) quiet?
  • Are we meeting around breakfast or lunch? Might my counterpart want to eat something? Do I need to be sure the coffee shop serves food that’s not removed from plastic wrap and microwaved before it’s served?
  • How important is the taste of the coffee?

You get the idea.

Oh, one more thing. No Tim Horton’s. I apologize if you’re a fan but Timmy Ho’s just doesn’t get it done. The seats are cold, hard and uncomfortable. And there are too many beeping sounds coming from the kitchen. Stick to the drive-through.

Now, without further adieu, the complete guide.

Disclaimer: CJ Maurer is not an employee or representative of any of these soon-to-be mentioned coffee shops. These opinions do not reflect his employer and are entirely his own.

Most Convenient Location

Starbucks on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. This is easiest compromise for people in the northtowns and southtowns. Plus, it’s immediately off the thruway exit. So it’s a perfect place to stop and do some work when you’re traveling and have time to kill. And if it’s the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt that it’s about two minutes from the Galleria Mall. Unfortunately, some people just don’t to Starbucks so this won’t work for everybody. Also, it’s really small. They only have two “normal” tables. If you don’t snag one of those you’re going to end up sitting on a really high table or a booth where the table-to-seat-height ratios are off and you feel like an old guy riding a Harley when you’re trying to type.

SPoT Coffee on Main Street in Williamsville. Arguably the most popular joint in the northtowns, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that’s not willing to meet you here. Even southtowners don’t have a problem making the short hike up the thruway do to its proximity to the first 290 exit. Inside is usually a mad house and you’re likely to bump into at least one other person you know before you leave. This is a positive for some and a downside for others. For a little while the baristas would hand you a piece of laminated paper with a famous person’s name on it when you placed an order and then they’d call that name out when it was ready. I wish they still did that. The coffee is good. All SPoT locations serve a regular house blend as well as a single origin from Peru or Ethiopia or something — and they’re usually awesome. The food is good, too. They serve all kinds of breakfast and lunch fare and it’s mostly healthy. It’s definitely pricey for these parts, though. Also, sometimes it’s hard to find a seat and lately the wifi connection has been hit-or-miss.

Best Coffee

Caffe Aroma on Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway. Spot and (more recently) Ashker’s get most of the attention when it comes to Elmwood Village haunts but Caffe Aroma is truly a gem. You’d be hard pressed (get it?) to find another place in Western New York that more closely resembles an authentic Italian cafe. I know this because I’ve been to Italy. Inside you’ll find the perfect mix of hipsters, yuppies, blue-collar folks and groups of jolly old men who sit around an open newspaper for hours on end. The food is pretty good. The wifi connection is always excellent. And you can even order beer or wine. In the summer they open the windows and you can sit on tables and bars facing Elmwood or Bidwell. During soccer matches people gather around the television set in the back corner and people often spill out into the sidewalk. And that’s the downside. It’s really small. And it often feels crammed. Don’t plan on parking here if you’re claustrophobic. But dude, the coffee…

Sweet_ness 7 on Grant Street. The West Side is buzzing with new activity but “Sweetness” still holds court. They opened a second location on Parkside near the Buffalo Zoo but I prefer the original one. The outside dons a killer mural and the inside is warm and cozy. Often times the owner is back there taking your order which is cool because (1) you’re reminded that you’re supporting a local business and (2) you know she really cares. Again, the coffee is outstanding but you can order a lot more. Barack Obama is proudly displayed as a cardboard cutout or something so I wouldn’t bring any staunch Republicans there. Also, sometimes parking can be tricky and you can’t forget that some people are still a little wary about venturing anywhere west of Richmond Avenue.

Best Places for Meetings 

Ashker’s on Elmwood Ave. Most people rightfully know Ashker’s for its amazing juice. They also leave musical instruments out for people to play but that usually happens at nights and on the weekends only. The food is fresh and delicious. Coffee is displayed in serve-your-own crafts. You get a variety of good options and free refills while you’re there, but sometimes they sit too long and become lukewarm. Like Caffe Aroma, you can pay to park on Elmwood but it’s also easy to snag a free spot on Bidwell or a side street like Potomac. Now, the juicers can get really noisy, but there’s a side room that has walls between it and the kitchen and main walk-in. And as long as you’re not there during the lunchtime rush the place is usually quiet during the week. What puts Ashker’s over the top is they have a private conference room. It’s encolsed by glass walls and even has a dry-erase board. And you can reserve your time for free. The wifi can be slow a times, though.

Panera Bread on Elmwood Ave. Last year Panera took over the old Blockbuster on Elmwood between Cleveland and Auburn — on the same block as Spot and across from Globe. As with any Panera, there are a ton of options for food and drink. But unlike any other Panera I’ve seen, this one has a large, reasonably quiet back dining room and a private, glassed-in conference room that you can rent for free just like Ashker’s. The reason it doesn’t rank ahead of Ashker’s is because, well, it’s a Panera. But it’s definitely a more likeable Panera. There’s a small parking lot that’s condusive to urban development. And they open up the front windows in the summer so you can either sit outside our inside and still feel the breeze. But I’m still not over how Panera limits wifi connection to 30 minutes during lunchtime hours.

The Quietest

Dog Ear’s Bookstore on Abbott Road in South Buffalo. Formerly Caz Coffee Cafe, technically this isn’t a coffee shop anymore. It’s a small, independent bookstore. But they still have a cafe that serves great food and coffee (made by McCullaugh on Swan Street downtown). But this is really the perfect setting for buckling down and getting some work done. Parking is free on Abbott Road and all the nearby side streets at all times. There are some chairs on the left as you walk in, but the best seats are in the back behind the counter. You might want to stop and browse the shelves first, though. The wifi is always on point but there are only 2 tables that seat a total of about 6 people. But most of the time you’re the only one there.

Goodrich Coffee and Tea on Main Street in Clarence. It’s a little out of the way for most people but worth the trip if you need to write or do something without distractions. Despite the fact it shares a parking lot with a dry cleaners finding a spot is never an issue. They have good coffee and food options — even a frozen yogurt station which is popular among the high school kids in the afternoons. And that’s the key. Work here before school gets out. You’ll find it much harder to focus around 3:00.

Coolest “Coffee Shop” Setting 

Taste on Main Street in East Aurora. If you live in or around East Aurora this is a no brainer. If you don’t, it’s probably worth making the trip down the 400. You can park on Main Street pretty easily but if that’s not working there’s a parking lot behind the building that’s connected to a crappy little strip mall. It’s in a beautiful brick building within walking distance from all the other cool places in the village. Inside is beautiful and eclectic. The baristas are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered. There are plenty of wooden tables. Wifi is reliable. Food is good although I don’t think I’ve ever been there for lunch. This is what you might call the total package.

SPoT Coffee on Elmwood Ave. (lead image) This one is too obvious. Part of me wants to throw out a place you probably haven’t been to so I can impress you but you can’t deny the heavyweights. This is the most popular SPoT (I’ve asked) and with good reason. It pierces the heart of Elmwood Village — arguably the most sought-after neighborhood in Buffalo. It attracts residents, students and professionals alike. The decor is messy — in a good way. The tables and couches don’t match. Obviously the coffee and food is delicious. Some of the baristas are so gracious you wonder if you just found their lost puppy or something. There are fewer places I’d rather be on a winter evening. Unfortunately their wifi connection took a turn for the worse about two years ago and it’s prevented me from grabbing a coffee or lunch there at times. It doesn’t seem to deter the patrons though, as this remains probably the most vibrant coffee shop in our area code.

Other Superlatives

Best wifi

  • Caffe Aroma on Elmwood
  • Any Starbucks

Best coffee shop you haven’t been to

  • Perk’s Cafe & Market on Broadway (downtown)
  • Cream & Sugar on East Ave in Lockport

Best southtowns spots

  • Comfort Zone Cafe on Main Street in Hamburg
  • Great Harvest Bread Company on Buffalo Street in Hamburg
  • Panera Bread on North Buffalo Road in Orchard Park (menopause mall, anyone?)

Most overrated

  • Coffee Culture
  • Panera Bread — I know they made it into the guide but some people love Panera wayyyyy too much.

Areas most in need of good/better coffee shops

  • All the “east” towns (Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster) — C’mon folks. We can do better than Starbucks and Panera, right?
  • Kenmore — How can a tidy little village, basically a spillover from North Buffalo, be so deprived?
  • South Buffalo — Fine, we’ll compromise. You can still serve corned beef sandwiches and Guinness. But give us some coffee.
  • Amherst — If you take away Williamsville you’re pretty much only left with chains.
  • Tonawanda — On second thought, I don’t even know where you’d put one here.

The Power Rankings

Because in 2014, everything must be ranked. Ladies and gentleman, here are the best coffee shops in Western New York.

  1. Caffe Aroma
  2. Taste
  3. Sweet_ness 7 on Grant Street
  4. SPoT Coffee on Elmwood Ave
  5. Ashker’s
  6. Starbucks on Main Street in Williamsville
  7. SPoT Coffee on Delaware and Chippewa
  8. Comfort Zone Cafe
  9. SPoT Coffee on Main Street in Williamsville
  10. Starbucks on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga
  11. Goodrich Coffee & Tea
  12. Dog Ear’s Bookstore
  13. DiCamillo’s Bakery
  14. Cream & Sugar
  15. Great Harvest Bread Company

While my days as a coffee shop hobo are numbered, the memories made and relationships forged will never be.

Best of luck to you on your travels.

 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • jonny99

    Of course this a very personal opinion but I disagree with just about every thing on here. Caffe Aroma is actually very mediocre ( actually poor) coffee although a cool European vibe and the espresso is good. Elm Street Bakery and Buffalo Coffee Roastery in my opinion are the best two for quality of coffee, and neither are even mentioned, and they actually roast on premise. Starbucks on Elmwood is the only location in WNY I believe using the Clover machine and offering very unique terroir driven coffee. A damn nice cup of joe. Acropolis, Newburyport Street and 5Points offer Gimme Coffee, one of the top rated roasters in America and from Ithaca. Again, not even mentioned. Comfort Zone in Hamburg is not even close to the best in Southtowns (Elm Street, Firefly Cupcake (Stumptown), Spot in OP, and Taste are all better. I’ll avoid Comfort Zone at all cost if I can.
    How can Coffee Culture be overrated, wouldn’t that mean that it would have to be highly popular and coveted in the first place? Tim Horton’s is what you call overrated.
    Amherst all chains you say, oops you forgot Premier Gourmet, probably WNY’s longest running roaster of great quality beans. And a very cool espresso bar right there on Maple Road.
    And how about a nod to some restaurants doing it right… Black Sheep, Shango, Buffalo Proper, Bacchus and Oshun among them using pour over and press and carefully sourcing.
    At least for me there is one thing to consider, Quality of the coffee, ok maybe location at times. Again just my opinion so feel free to disagree anyone, or to correct my grammar grad94

  • dy1an

    jonny99 I think you’ve missed the point of the article and only read the breakdown of the rankings… Restaurants aren’t mentioned because they aren’t very optimal for somebody trying to work done in one spot for hours on end (and often don’t have readily available wifi passwords). Nobody is about to sit down in a Premier to get some work done. I find it quite fair that coffee shops out in east aurora and orchard park are left out of this list, but I guess the article should just refer to Buffalo instead of all of WNY.

  • OldFirstWard

    Twice I’ve tried Coffee Culture in the Galleria and twice I burned my mouth on boiling hot coffee.  The coffee come so hot that it has to sit for 20 minutes just to sip it.  Never again.

  • OldFirstWard

    jonny99
    “Starbucks on Elmwood is the only location in WNY I believe using the Clover machine and offering very unique terroir driven coffee.”

    The Clover coffee maker was developed in 2005 by the Seattle-based Coffee Equipment Company. Starbucks purchased the company that makes the Clover machine in March 2008 with all future Clovers to appear exclusively in Starbucks.

  • Rand503

    Doesnt Delish on Amherst St. In Black Rock serve Stumptown coffee?

  • LouisTully

    OldFirstWard I’d say the same for Tim Hortons coffee.  They’re probably used to everyone ordering a double-double so they serve it scalding.  A black coffee comes with a wait.
    I like Taza on Elmwood near Allen.  I think they said they get their coffee from a roaster in the Ellicott Square Building.

  • LoeyRotchford

    jonny99 Buffalo Coffee Roastery has amazing coffee but they only have one table to sit down and work at and are pretty much only open during downtown business hours. It’s really an in-and-out location, and as dy1an said, it’s not in keeping with the point of this article. I’d absolutely love it if they had a bigger, comfier space, but if I want to lounge and relax with their coffee I have to bring it home.

  • jonny99

    Right you are OFW, but only select sbux locations use the Clover right now and Elmwood is the one. They also offer excellent single origin coffees brewed by the Clover.

  • jonny99

    Delish did, but it has closed.

  • “laptop hobo.”  made me chuckle.  and then there’s “migrant laptop workers,” a nod to the underpaid agricultural workforce.

  • jiminycricket

    I found it amusing that you listed Aroma and Sweetness as best coffee, both are awful. Especially Aroma’s coffee. There are only two good cups of coffee in the city, 5 points which uses Gimmie coffee and Public espresso which only has pop up and three days a week at Breadhive.
    No place in town does Espresso well.

  • ChristineLSloc

    Sounds like Cowork Buffalo might be a good fit for you.

  • ChristineLSloc

    jiminycricket I went to Sweetness 7 on Grant Street once with my husband. The coffee was OK, the guy behind the counter was rude, and the food wasn’t anything special. It was OK, but not great. I’ve been subsequently baffled by the place’s popularity. The best I could say for it is that it is pretty.
    Can’t say I’ve been to Aroma since I moved back here. I’ve been itching to get some Public Espresso though.

  • bfranklin

    jonny99 I think the author was factoring in the work space, etc.  I would be interested to hear your list of the top five coffees in WNY.  I’m generally disappointed to go into a ‘coffee shop’ and get something that is no different than what a gas station serves.
    When having something stronger than coffee, I’d second Louis Tully’s comment about Taza, Allen near Elmwood (I need to try their coffee).

  • Stateofmind

    Buffalo cafe operators would do well by visiting other cities–particularly Portland and Seattle–to get a sense of what can be done.  Buffalo could use about five more cool hangouts city wide. 
    For venue, I prefer Sweetness (needs a refresh), Aroma (too congested, though), and Ashkers (though not really a cafe). There is a vibe in these places, which is important. 
    For coffee, I love Public, Spot, and (LOVED) Stumptown at Delish.

  • grovercleveland

    OH MY GOD, YOU PICKED PLACES IN THE SUBURBS AND SUGGESTED USING A DRIVE THRU.
    THE WORLD IS ENDING. HEAD FOR THE HILLS!

  • grovercleveland

    Way to read the article jonny99, he is speaking about coffee shops to get work done in that have wifi.

  • jonny99

    Sure bfranklin here are 5 great cups of coffee…Buffalo Coffee Roastery (Main Pl Mall)Elm St Bakery (East Aurora)5 Points, Orange Cat(Lewiston) and Black SheepTavern.
    Like someone else said Espresso is still a work in progress here, but hopefully Public can do us proud.

  • grovercleveland

    Tim Hortons is definitely too hot. I typically get it on the run and don’t consume for a few minutes so it doesn’t burn my mouth. It does however burn my hand in that flimsy cup. I wish they would switch to styrofome

  • Opuntia humifusa

    LouisTully OldFirstWard I believe it’s still from the Buffalo Coffee Roastery in the Main Place Mall, FYI.

  • ChristineLSloc

    jonny99 It’s true. Even in Seattle only some Starbucks use the Clover.
    I used to live down the street from the test Starbucks – where they’d demo their concept stuff. That was fun.

  • bobbybuffalo

    Caffe Aroma, my go to spot for over a year…changed their something with their internet and now it’s on par with Spot Elmwood 🙁

  • OldFirstWard

    LouisTully
    I have to admit that I use hazelnut creamer exclusively with my coffee and no added sugar, because I don’t have the taste for black coffee which to me tastes too bland and bitter.

  • OldFirstWard

    Stateofmind
    “There is a vibe in these places, which is important.”
    What is that vibe?  People glued to a table staring at notebook computer or heads down with thumbs whipping across smart phones.  
    Can people socialize in a coffee shop with no WiFi?  What if people actually had to talk to one another with no electronics, could that business model survive and would customers come?

  • grovercleveland And chains too!  Chaaaaaaaains!  All chains are evil, and the best chain will be worst than the most awful local!  Except Spot, or SPoT, or SpOT, or 5p07, or however you’re supposed to spell it.

    Anyhow, whenever I’m back in Buffalo, I found the locals/indies have much spottier wifi than the chains.  Spot in Williamsville is especially bad.  Maybe a quarter of the time, “the router is acting up, and only my manager can fix it, and he won’t be back until tomorrow.”  At least you can sit close to the window, and “borrow” wifi from Panera across Main Street.

    In some cases, the appeal of local ownership doesn’t make up for terrible decor and coffee.  Several years ago, it seemed like there was a slew of new mom-and-pop coffee shops that basically set up some generic Buffalo Hotel Supply tables and stacking chairs in an empty storefront, put out a few carafes of mystery blend from some no-name roaster, and waited for the crowds of eager local-first homers to arrive. 

    Compared to peer cities, the Buffalo area has far fewer quality coffee shops. (This isn’t counting the Canada-like concentration of Tim Horton’s locations.)  There’s also quite a few coffee deserts – mainly more blue collar neighborhoods and suburbs, and the East Side, where it’s Tim’s or nothing.

  • jaffryan

    The wifi at spot coffee on Elmwood is absolutely awful. I used to go there to work all of the time, and now the only time I’ll go is if I have no work to do. I don’t get it- is it really that hard to put in a new router(s) or have someone come in an fix it? 

    On the flip side, I’ve found Panera to be the best place to study, mainly because it’s usually empty inside, and so big that even if it is a little crowded, you can just go the backroom and grab a table or a booth to work at.

  • buffalorr

    What’s with all these coffee shops anyway? Just put a pot on at home and use your own wi-fi. First world problems.

  • Opuntia humifusa

    OldFirstWard Stateofmind Yes, Cafe Taza is that place.

  • mikemac

    ChristineLSloc probably one of the best options for coffee, too. some serious nerding goes into it.

  • ChristineLSloc

    buffalorr In Seattle, where there were coffee shops on every corners all pulling a profit, I got the sense that they acted as a living room for people in parts of town who otherwise lived in tiny houses and tiny apartments which were poor for social gatherings. 
    But houses/apartments in Buffalo are huge. So you got me there.

  • jaffryan

    buffalorr good call, dude. completely forgot about my apartment. hey guys- let’s delete this thread. we look like a bunch of idiots right now.

  • buffgalesq

    buffalorr Sometimes it’s nice to be out amongst other people, even if you’re out alone.  Something about reading a good book with a glass of wine at Cafe Aroma or Sweetness_7 while surrounded by other like-minded Buffalonians or bookworms makes me feel all warm and cozy.

  • buffalorr

    buffgalesq–Actually I’m glad people enjoy the experience. As for me, I get too tired to read if I have wine, my mind starts to wander and then I start thinking about the money I’ve wasted when I have a can of Folger’s at home. Yes, I’m feeling the effects of age unfortunately.

  • jaffryan

    mikemac is that the same place that was robbed of all its dogecoins in the basement a few weeks back?

  • jaffryan

    jiminycricket weird how people have different opinions about things.

  • WHATTTTT

    What’s unfortunate about the coffee scene in Buffalo/WNY is that just about none of them are serving good coffee, and most follow the same bohemian recipe that has long passed. We don’t have a single third-wave coffee shop in all of WNY (Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Site Glass, Toby’s Estate––these guys serve truly incredible coffee in spaces that absolutely beautiful).
     Public is going to be the closest to it, but frankly their coffee isn’t good. They should put more focus on their process/equipment/brand, and less on roasting.

    I agree that Caffe Aroma is the closest to an authentic Italian caffe, but I don’t think their coffee is good either. 
    The only good coffee that I’m aware of in the region are Gimme Coffee––from Ithaca and Joe Bean––from Rochester. A few spots serve them locally, but that’s all we’ve got at this point.

  • jaffryan  Every Spot I’ve been to has had “spotty” wifi – either really slow, prone to bumping users off randomly, or not working period. Dependable wifi is one area where the chains have the indes beat.

  • OldFirstWard

    Opuntia humifusa
    I read some reviews and most people really like the place except that it way too small to really hang out in.  
    The other thing I notice is that a lot of people seem to feel that it enhances their relationship with their dog???  Because they hand out biscuits to customers???  I’ll pass on that.  I don’t need to socialize with someones pet.

  • WHATTTTT  There’s still about a 5-10 year delay between the emergence of national trends in dining, retail, and other things, and when they hit the same level of prevalence in Buffalo.  Craft brewing, coffee culture, dog parks, gourmet burgers, non-Italian/French/Chinese ethnic food, and so on – all were an everyday part of life in many peer cities in the 1990s and 2000s, but it’s only recently where they’ve become a “thing” in Buffalo.

  • LouisTully

    OldFirstWard Opuntia humifusa re: biscuits.  Well, I don’t think it’s like a business model.  I don’t know where you’re getting the relationship enhancement from.
    It is awfully small.  But it’s pretty awesome  in there and it does get packed, but people definitely do hang out.
    Only thing for you, my friend, is that going to a place like Taza would test you.  The people that hang out there and patronize it are different than you.  Yes, your beloved hipsters and millennials make up their clientele.  But I see plenty of folks of all stripes in there.  And there is usually always some good conversation going.  Might be good for you, expand your horizons.

    Taza gets my vote for coffee.

  • Rand503

    Oh. Not surprised, actually. Last time we were there, they had nothing to sell and we were not going back.

  • Rand503

    With all the italian restaurants and such, you would think someone would sell Illy doffee, which is actually very good. Certainly better than the dish water that is usually served.
    Now, if you think it is Tough to find a good cup of coffee, imagine how terrible it is to get a good cup of tea! We tea lovers are left out in the lurch totally. And no, a crappy afternoon tea in a faux victorian setting doesnt do it for me.

  • Stateofmind

    buffalorr “Can of Folgers”?!?!?! Oh, child……………….you need a coffee intervention.

  • jiminycricket Not really relevant to the article, but regarding your point about the best coffee, Lucy Ethiopian at Grant and Amherst will make amazing coffee for you.  If you request it, it takes a long time, but they have it many Saturday mornings.

  • buffalorr

    Stateofmind–I upgraded to Folgers from Maxwell house but then again, I still like Genny Creme Ale.

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    I moved here after 13 years in Seattle, and needless to say it was shocking (in multiple ways, but especially from a coffee perspective); Seattle is the Queen City of Coffee. Now of course, as the home of Starbucks, those are everywhere (including the amazing “Reserve” stores that are massive and cozy and have expanded food options and even bars with happy hours and alcohol); but what I really miss are the dozens of independent options (Victrola Coffee still makes my favorite latte ever, and don’t get me started on the sublime perfection that is Vivace). 
    Tim Horton’s coffee is just not very good, nor is Coffee Culture’s — it’s Dunkin Donuts quality — fairly drinkable but nothing all that special. 
    Sweetness 7 and SPoT are as good as it gets here (I live at SPoT on Elmwood and Hertel, and occasionally Chippewa – I dislike the Williamsville location – too yuppy), along with Taste (if you want to drive that far, which I have on several occasions). Cafe 59 USED to be a great place to get coffee/good food and work, but that was ruined long ago. Bottom line is that options are limited, but great coffee is available as long as you are comfortable with redundancy (if I get tried of SPoT I need to choose between S7 and driving to East Aurora), and walkable options are limited. In Seattle I could walk to about 6 Starbucks (or Seattle’s Best or Peet’s)  and 3-4 independent options in 15-20 minutes from just about anywhere in the city. I like Cafe Aroma’s coffee and food, but the space is far too small and noisy to allow conversation, yet alone be conducive to work.

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    jaffryan I so agree – luckily I have my own HOTSPOT and so I don’t worry. Still, I wish they would fix it. I mean please – reliable Wi-Fi is central to coffee shop life.

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    ChristineLSloc jonny99 Completely true – I first had Clover brewed in Seattle.

  • No_Illusions

    buffalorr 
    Do you work from home? You might manage, but for a lot of people its very difficult.
    A lot of people need a separate space in order to focus on their work. When they are at home there are just too many mundane distractions.

  • GotAnyChange

    I tried a Pitt chain when down there called crazy mocha or something. I wasn’t impressed. That said I think spot is overrated.

  • jonny99

    Way to read my comment grovercleveland, I said I was interested in quality only

  • jonny99

    Yikes you toss Seattle out there as a credential then you say Caffe Aroma has great coffee, I just don’t get that. Check out Buffalo Coffee Roastery and Elm Street

  • ChristineLSloc

    Jeffrey Zacko Smith When did you move away? A lot of the Peets were closing when I was there. Also, Seattle’s Best = Starbucks now.

  • girlonfastwheels

    Rand503 There is a small coffee counter in the Hotel Lafayette that sells illy

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    jonny99 Wwell I think taste in coffee is pretty highly subjective. LOL!  I have enjoyed the coffee I’ve had at Aroma.

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    ChristineLSloc Jeffrey Zacko Smith I left in 2008, though I have been back anywhere from 1-3 times a year since moving. Last I was back (2013) there were still a few Peet’s around, and SBC was purchased by Starbucks before I left (I think around 2003-2004). 
    In my “heyday” in Seattle there was also Tully’s! 
    Hands down, Victrola and Vivace were (are) my favorites, though I enjoyed Cafe Ladro too.

  • Jeffrey Zacko Smith

    OldFirstWard Stateofmind My favorite coffee joint in the world (well, in the US) in Seattle enabled wi-fi access weekdays, but turned it off on the weekends to encourage more conversation, reading, etc. It seemed to work well. Of course, if you needed wi-fi there were 25 other options, not 2-3 like would be the case here.

  • bfranklin

    jonny99 jonny99 from Nebraska?

  • buffalorr

    No_Illusions–i’ve never worked from home but I do recall how difficult it was to even do homework when I was in school. I’d be distracted when The Little Rascals or Three Stooges would come on TV, aging boomer that I am. I can now understand that it might be easier for folks to go to a coffee shop to do their work and I’m proud to say that I enjoyed a Vente Cappuccino at Barnes and Noble today.

  • jonny99

    There is a tiny bit of truth to the trend time lag you speak of but I really do not buy it. In the past 10 years Buffalo is about as current as any place, just on its own scale. Maybe a decade or more ago you could say that but not so much anymore. Craft brew since you mentioned it has been around WNY for 30 years, Caffe Aroma, Spot and Buffalo Coffee Roastery opened in 90’s too. I remember Solid Grounds, Stimulance and the Coffee Bean (now Shango I think) back in 90-91.

  • buffalorr

    Buffalo has had a local coffee roasting business for over 145 years–McCullagh Coffee that’s now housed in a huge new building on Swan St. off Michigan Ave. I was turned onto their different roasts of coffee while attending an event at the silo’s this past summer. They had a booth where I tried their iced coffee and have to say it was about the best I’d ever had. They only sell to restaurants but do have a small showroom at their facility where you can go to purchase ground or unground bags over the counter. A good alternative when you don’t feel like going out and just want to relax at home with a great cup of java IMO.

  • jonny99
    agreed. we have these amazing things called the internet and air travel, so it is pretty effortless to discover what’s going on in other places.  
    just yesterday there was an article here on bro about patching potholes with mosaic art.  which some artist is doing in chicago.
    and then there’s john paget’s newest film, which is a rapid-fire sprint through buffalo’s history of innovation and invention.

  • Dan Blather grovercleveland
    “…coffee shops that basically set up some generic Buffalo Hotel Supply tables and stacking chairs in an empty storefront, put out a few carafes of mystery blend from some no-name roaster, and waited for the crowds of eager local-first homers to arrive.”

    i think i know which place you’re talking about and they’ve improved the ambience.

  • Rand503

    Ive heard that the old Deco coffee shops were popular because they sourced their coffee from high quality suppliers, roasted their own beans and brewed it all up properly, all starting way back in the 1920s.
    It is nice to know that there once was a time when Buffalo was a national leader in trends.

  • EricOak

    Dan Blather WHATTTTT 
    I think it’s you who is 5-10 years behind. Your argument is anecdotal. Prove it.

  • OldFirstWard

    Jeffrey Zacko Smith ChristineLSloc
    Have you ever tried Caffè Vita or Herkimer?

  • smekdigitalconsulting

    ” But I’m still not over how Panera limits wifi connection to 30 minutes during lunchtime hours.”

    Check out my article on how to easily spood your MAC to bypass the limitations.

    http://www.smekdigital.com/how-to-bypass-paneras-wifi-limit/