For legions of sleepy Buffalonians, coffee is just a drink — albeit a vital one.
It’s poured hot and black, with no importance attached to its origin or intricacy of taste. It’s more medicinal than it is experiential. Whether served as a regular, double-double or as an extra large through a drive-through window, it’s a necessity to keep the day rolling.
For others like coffee purveyor Josh Halliman, the beverage is so much more.
“People want variety and are beginning to expect a higher standard than that of what you might find at the giant coffee chains,” said Halliman, who owns and operates downtown’s Overwinter Coffee with business partner Benjamin Trojan. “Coffee was treated as a utility for so long, but now, [there are] many choices and varieties to experience. It’s almost analogous to the craft beer scene versus the classic beer giants.”
Though Buffalo’s beer scene has received continuous coverage for its ongoing proliferation, the city’s addition of numerous cafés or revamped sources of caffeine hasn’t. Places like Spot and Sweetness_7 have set the tone. Public Espresso, Tipico, Undergrounds and Daily Planet have extended it. Forthcoming locales like Public @ Shea’s Seneca and Jam Parkside already are creating a buzz.
Over the past year, new locales have opened to deliver third-wave choices, single-origin brews, and a kaleidoscopic selection of teas that skew from usual Tim Hortons orders. Tandem these menu items with coffeehouse ambiance developed for comfort and compatibility to the region’s trajectory, and a coffee is no longer just an elixir to keep standing upright.
It’s central to Buffalo’s evolving identity, and Halliman said, provides an opportunity to explore new tastes, experiences and locations. “Coffee [presents] a central meeting place and a commonality across many cultures and interests. It also tends to draw people to areas they may not have examined before and experience different parts of the city.”
Ready for a cup? Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the newest spots to find.
49 Coffee House
49 E. Main St., Springville; on Facebook
Scene: The area's ideal coffeehouse offerings aren’t limited to the city proper. Those heading south for ski season can find enviable tastes within the caffeinated creativity of 49. Friday coffee flights of hot and cold selections provide a new spin for those used to standard orders. Flaky pastries, wraps or deliciously designed waffle plates serve plenty of reasons to stop by.
Order: White Chocolate Cinnamon Latte ($2.95, small)
Then take it to: the ski slopes in nearby Ellicottville.
350 Main St. (Main Place Mall); on Facebook
Scene: No one’s going to mistake downtown’s Main Place Mall for an engagingly eclectic location. But with the addition of Taza in November— which moved from Allentown to inside the former Buffalo Coffee Roastery across from M&T Plaza—java lovers now have a reason to mall walk for the same brew selections and breakfast sandwiches that once colored Taza’s vibrant Allentown address.
Order: Café Latte ($2.70, small)
Then take it into: the middle of your workday.
[Related: Cafe Taza's change in 8 new businesses]
6535 Campbell Blvd., Pendleton; on Facebook
Scene: Niagara County has lots to appreciate. Pour-over cups of artisanal coffee? Not especially, but Craft Coffee has now made them accessible. Katie and Nick Graves’s place offers an expansive café menu of drinks, breakfast and sandwiches within rustic confines appropriate for a place in Erie Canal country, as well as beer and wine specials for those looking to switch gears.
Order: Winter Spice Tea ($2.50).
Then take it: on a chilly winter drive to Niagara Falls.
The Intersection Cafe
100 Elmwood Ave.; on Facebook
Scene: Café Taza’s previous address was a cherished location that now lives on as Intersection Cafe. Brimming as a ragtag site for neighbors to enjoy menu items and inclusivity amid local artwork and clipped images of Ziggy Stardust, the spot changed hands in the fall to stay a genuine slice of Allentown passion—and a dependable spot for delicious Breadhive bagels.
Order: Caramel Macchiato ($3.50, small)
Then take it: for a stroll through Allentown.
Kornerstone Café at Larkin
701 Seneca St.
Scene: Nestled off the lobby of Seneca’s Larkin Center of Commerce, the effervescent space is part café, part juice bar, but all health-conscience oasis compatible with the type of crisp backdrops customers have come to expect from locales inside Larkinville’s hard-working footprint. And for those toiling in this sector, it’s nice to have a place to chase an espresso with a shot of wheat grass, just to hedge your energy bets.
Order: Nitro Cold Brew ($3.95, small)
Then take it to: a peaceful spot in Larkin Square.
9 Genesee St., overwinter.coffee
Scene: Set inside space off the remade Roosevelt Square and in the shadow of the Electric Tower, the intimate operation roasts its own brand of coffee that you also can find at several other locations. But for those traversing through downtown on a visit or office coffee break, the locale’s walk-in café space is ideal for a bold drip to sip by the window, or to scoop tasty take-and-go selections.
Order: Cappuccino ($3.50)
Then take it to: nearby Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza.
346 Connecticut St.
Scene: Now occupying a room formerly operated by celebrated names Martin Cooks and Lait Cru Brasserie, the Elmwood Avenue favorite—boasting specialty brews and freshly ground Finger Lakes Coffee varieties—has brought its pours and vegan breakfast delights (see: eight-grain pancakes) into the Horsefeathers Building’s lounge-ready confines.
Order: Dirty Spicy Chai Tea Latte ($4.15, small)
Then take it: through the day’s Horsefeathers Market offerings.
1507 Hertel Ave.
Scene: There’s no hot coffee or tea here—yet. The address is still waiting for its restaurant component to open so it can sell more than bagged snacks and chilled Starbucks beverages. But, it has cats—lots and lots of cats—to substitute for a calming chamomile or cappuccino inside the city’s only feline-focused café.
Order: One hour in the Cat Lounge ($8).
Then: find Homer the Cat, and tell him how much you love coffee.
429 Rhode Island St., on Facebook
Scene: Past its one-year anniversary, this West Side favorite isn’t exactly new. But for those who haven’t made their first visit to its intimate expanse, it’s worth the reminder. Chose from its brand of brewed delights to enjoy aside breakfast or a cherry-accented chicken salad sandwich ($10), then share a window table inside one of the city’s most panaceatic spaces.
Order: Americano ($3)
Then take it to: a window seat.
Roots Coffee & Tea
1685 Hertel Ave., rootscoffeeandtea.com
Scene: Hertel Avenue continues to fill new storefronts up and down its stretch, with Roots adding a calm coffee corner to this ongoing development. Taking over the former New Moon Café space across the street from Lexington Co-Op, you can enjoy third-wave flavors and Instagram-ready lattes as one of Buffalo’s most vivacious neighborhoods percolates outside the shop’s storefront windows.
Order: Golden Milk Latte ($3.50)
Then take it: toward Hertel’s shopping blocks.
388 Porter Ave.
Scene: Striking art. Appealing vegan fare. And yes, caffeinated and calming beverages inside the former Rome space near Buffalo’s D’Youville College.
According to its website, designer and Portugal native Pedro Manuel aimed to create a space where customers could bask in mutual admiration of such items as music, food and coffee. He did, all while adding an idyllic café down the street from the city’s scenic waterfront.
Order: Red Eye ($4.50)
Then take it: to the overlook view at Front Park.
[Related: Vegan yoga cafe plans West Side opening]