Whether it’s your morning reward for getting out of bed or the fuel for your all-nighter, coffee seems to be an essential part of the day for people worldwide. For many, however, this “caffeinated elixir of life” is too often served through a drive-through window. Those looking for a better atmosphere- perhaps a spot for a first date or a new place to meet up with friends- will be glad to know that Buffalo is home to a number of coffee shops staffed by skilled baristas who can do things with steamed milk that you might only dream of. No matter where you are in the city, these places will provide you with a better Instagram photo-op than your name scribbled on a plastic cup.
Sweet_ness 7 Café
Neighborhood: West Side
220 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213
Coffee beans are one of the world’s longest-traded goods, but Sweet_ness 7 Café is able to bring new life to a beverage that’s been brewed for centuries. This “new spin on tradition” vibe is also reflected in the building itself- old brick is covered with paint and chalk drawings, an old typewriter is placed on a table next to an outlet where someone’s charging their laptop. This is a great spot to hang solo and write the next great American novel, but also for meeting up with friends- located next to a record store, a secondhand bookstore, and the Global Villages shop with gifts from all over the world, a day of shopping and exploring on the West Side should start (or end- they’re open until 6 PM) at Sweet_ness 7. On top of coffee and espresso drinks and a cozy atmosphere, Sweet_ness 7 offers great brunch food, beer, wine and liquor – alone or in your coffee.
If you find yourself north of the city and in need of a fun place to grab a coffee, a drink or a snack, stop by their Parkside location at 301 Parkside Ave. You’ll find an equally eclectic space and a similar menu.
Neighborhood: Elmwood Village
957 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222
People walking along Elmwood Avenue can watch the daytime coffee drinkers shuffle out and the night crowd make their way into this coffee shop, which is open until midnight and serves liquor, wine, and beer in addition to the coffee, teas, and food items listed on its menu. Popular among college students because of its proximity to the Talking Leaves bookstore, Caffe Aroma is a great place to get some studying done during the day and then to unwind with a drink once you’re finished. In the spring, the windows of the shop are opened and the patio set up, and in the summer, music can be heard from the nearby Elmwood Village summer concert series. The art seen on the walls is often painted by the baristas themselves, so be sure to ask about any piece that you’re especially into!
Neighborhood: Downtown Business District
The Hotel at Lafayette @ 391 Washington Street, Buffalo, NY 14222
The historic Hotel Lafayette is the new home to the first Public coffee bar location, which previously only served its drinks at farmers markets before finally setting up shop in Downtown Buffalo in March. Devoted to serving quality products made with fresh, house-roasted coffee beans and without flavored syrups, Public provides one of the most genuine coffee experiences in the city. If you find yourself in the downtown area and wanting a pick-me-up that isn’t served in a cardboard cup, this is the place to go. They go as far as to offer drink flights. Be warned, however- the guys working behind the scenes will insist that you drink their prided pour-over brew without adding any cream or sugar…but you probably won’t want any after your first sip. A visit to Public espresso is also the perfect change to try baked goods from BreadHive, Butter Block and Elm Street Bakery. I think it’s safe to say you won’t be able to pass up a homemade Oreo.
Daily Planet Coffee
Neighborhood: Hertel Ave
1862 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14216
Upon entering Daily Planet Coffee, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to find yourself walking into a performance by a local musician or, on every first Thursday of the month, a jam session with the Buffalo Ukulele Club. The friendly baristas at Daily Planet seem to love their jobs and their customers, and will provide you with better conversation than the typical heyhowareyouwhatcanIgetyoutoday’s often served up at chain establishments. This is a great place to bring a group of friends and grab something off of the game shelf- does anything compliment a holiday-spiced cortado better than a game of Scrabble? This place offers a great selection of fair trade coffee and tea blends and a display case of fresh desserts- the blueberry lemon loaf is an absolute must-try.
Dog Ears Bookstore & Café
Neighborhood: South Buffalo
688 Abbott Road, Buffalo, NY 14220
Dog Ears is the go-to spot for anyone in the South Buffalo community seeking a great lunch-time coffee shop. Aside from its delicious food and coffee drinks, Dog Ears is also a not-for-profit doing great things for the South Buffalo community. The café and bookstore both fund The Enlightenment Literary Arts Center located on the second floor, where reading is encouraged and group discussions are held for local youth. Considered by many to be a hidden gem of the area, Dog Ears is quiet and a great place to hunker down if you’ve got hours of work ahead of you- your only interruption is likely to be an employee asking if you’d like a refill.