Nothing beats a good cup of coffee. As Lorelai Gilmore would say, “I can’t stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing and the walking and the words putting into the sentence doing.” Coffee makes the world go round! Whenever I travel, I try to find the best local coffee in town. But even when I’m home in Syracuse, I have lots of great options! From local coffee roasters to cozy cafés and tea lounges, here’s a list of the best coffee shops in Syracuse. Plus, maybe this will help you choose a side in the debate over apple cider versus pumpkin spice latte.
“I never laugh until I’ve had my coffee.” – Clark Gable
Opened: The first location opened in Eastwood in 2007. There are now 7 locations around Syracuse. For your first visit, they recommend: An Ethiopian pour-over; it’s the owner’s favorite!
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a pumpkin latte, a pumpkin cookie, or an apple scone.
The story behind Café Kubal…
The owner, Matt Godard, was in South America and realized how easy it was to get green coffee beans. Seeing a need for good quality coffee in Syracuse, he decided to bring the beans back home and Kubal was born. Fun fact! Kubal has collaborated with Eastwood Brewery to create the various coffee stouts and porters. This fall, the coffee shop is hosting a competition among the baristas to create specialty drinks, with one being featured in each of the upcoming months.
“… Coming to Café Kubal is more like visiting a friend than it is just about buying a latte or cup of coffee.”
Anthony Tringale, Former Account Manager
Café Kubal is a participating member of the Eat Local CNY card. That means that every time you spend $25 or more, you get $5 OFF!
Opened: October 3, 2015 in Nelson, NY; now located at 1200 East Genesee St. in Syracuse For your first visit, they recommend: Your favorite! Since Peaks’ main mission is to create a culture of happiness and community, they want to make your favorite drink the best it can be. Peaks Coffee is all ethically sourced and comes mostly from Columbia, Ethiopia, and Guatemala.
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a coffee with apple spice syrup made from reduced local cider and spices. Or try the apple chaider, a special creation from Peaks.
The story behind Peaks…
The owners, Kelsey and Sam, have both suffered from depression as adults, and have learned to endure the ‘peaks and valleys.’ Their early days began when they roasted coffee beans in a cast iron skillet and sold it out of their garage. Now they use coffee as a way to connect with other people, on their good days and their bad. They invite you in to have a cup of coffee and a conversation, and hopefully make your day a little brighter.
“We are a mission-based company… We always tell our team that we are a people company serving people coffee, not a coffee company serving people.”
Opened: 2007 in the Westcott neighborhood What makes them unique? Recess is known for fueling the late-night study sessions for Syracuse University students. They also can now be found downtown as well as right inside the main gate of the New York State Fair. Fun fact! Recess has collaborated with Middles Ages Brewery to create the Recess Coffee Stout – my favorite! The cafés also have a great selection of sandwiches and pastries, including many vegan options.
Recess Coffee is a participating member of the Eat Local CNY card. That means that every time you spend $25 or more, you get $5 OFF!
Opened: 2017 at 509 West Onondaga St. What makes them unique? Salt City is located in an old 1860’s mansion, and has my favorite atmosphere of all the coffee shops in Syracuse. The owners have embraced the Salt City name and use various salt shakers and grinders as artwork around the café. Their coffee is delicious and the sandwiches are to die for.
Opened: 2009 at 407 Tulip Street in Liverpool What makes them unique? Café at 407 is operated to raise funds for Ophelia’s Place, a local organization helping people with eating disorders. They offer a variety of coffees, teas, and small bites. 407 uses sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients.
Freedom of Espresso has 4 locations around Syracuse: Armory Square, Franklin Square, Liverpool, and Fayetteville. What makes them unique? They have the best chocolate croissants in town! But really, all of their pastries and drinks are great. Fun fact! Freedom of Espresso was originally known as Federal Expresso, but was sued by FedEx for having the same name. It took several years, but FoE actually won their court case. Nevertheless, they changed their name to stop any confusion and decided to name a drink after their lawyer. (Thanks to David from Syracuse History for sharing the story.)
Opened: Late August 2017 in the village of Liverpool; a second location is opening soon in downtown Syracuse For your first visit, they recommend: The emoliente, it’s ‘an all-natural and holistic beverage made with toasted barley, flax, chia, aloe, various medicinal herbs out of Peru, fruits, and more.’ You won’t find it anywhere else! Hope’s lattes are made using esencia, their version of espresso, made from a variety of 7 different beans. It has less acidity and more caffeine than your typical espresso. Their coffee is created from a mix of 3 to 5 different types of beans, most of which come from Peru and Columbia.
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a pumpkin latte (made with real pumpkin), or a bourbon maple pecan latte.
The story behind Hope…
Hope Café was created as a way to fund the local charity People Project. People Project originally started as a full-service restaurant in northern Peru with a goal to support the people in the region. Hope continues to support the people of Peru and brings their culture to Syracuse. You’ll find a unique selection of food at the café which you can’t find anywhere else around. From the Italian paninis, Peruvian empanadas, and Colombian arepas to the lucuma cheesecake and liege waffles, your tastebuds will be in heaven! Fresh juices, smoothies, and grain bowls add to your options.
“We are a charity and 100% of the profits go to our charitable work… Every dollar you spend at Hope Cafe goes to help people in need. Hope is contagious, spread it!
Opened: 2018 at 5590 Route 31 in Cicero What makes them unique? Ink Corner is the only place in town that I’ve found where I can get a peanut butter latte. They also excel in their customer service, making sure that you are getting exactly the drink you want. You can tell that the baristas take pride in their work and enjoy making you that perfect cup of coffee. They also enjoy putting smiles on kids’ faces by giving them ‘latte art’ on their hot cocoas. Even better? Ink Corner serves Turkish coffee too.
Opened: November 1, 2018 at 4119 West Genesee Street in Camillus Featuring coffee roasted by: Café Kubal & Recess Coffee For your first visit, they recommend: A latte or gourmet hot chocolate
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a pumpkin latte or a cinnamon-spiced cider.
The story behind Rise & Grind…
The owner, Marty, saw a need for a locally owned café in Camillus and decided to take her love of coffee and create that place. Rise & Grind prides itself on its friendly staff who are eager to recommend options for people who aren’t sure what to try. The menu includes a variety of healthy and decadent options to please everyone.
Opened: May 2, 2016 at 511 East Genesee Street in Fayetteville Featuring coffee roasted by: Peaks Coffee Company For your first visit, they recommend: The soleil latte, made with a homemade honey-cinnamon syrup (and I agree 100%!)
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a homemade pumpkin spice latte or a mulled cider.
The story behind Soleil…
The owners, married couple Shem and Taylor, first met in a café. After years of Taylor working in the coffee business, they decided they wanted to create their own café to bring brightness to other people’s lives. Soleil prides itself on its warm, inviting staff and their efficiency in getting you your drinks. They also serve some fantastic waffles!
“It would make us thrilled if you’d give us a try… We have put in a lot of work and care in crafting a really great cafe experience… and want as many people to experience that as possible.”
Opened: May 22, 2004 at 108 East Washington St #2 For your first visit, they recommend: The ‘Dirty Matcha’, a Roji original Roji’s tea comes from a variety of countries, including Southern China, Japan, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Fall Specials: Treat yourself to a pumpkin bubble tea!
The story behind Roji…
Roji Tea Lounge was created when owner Christian saw a need for a quiet, chill place where people could relax and enjoy a nice cup of tea. But it’s more than just a lounge, it’s an experience! Roji prides itself on letting the customers sit back and relax while enjoying their loose leaf tea.