I love coffee for a lot of reasons—the rich taste, of course, but also the ritual, the anticipation of that first sip, the slightly bitter, yet invigorating aroma, and—to cap it off—the enjoyment of going to a place where the barista knows my order (if not my name). As much as I like my Keurig, there’s something about going to my neighborhood coffeehouse for a steaming cup of just-brewed java, a place where the atmosphere is as critical to the experience as the caffeine. These welcoming spots not only put a lot of energy and care into their roasts, they’re designed for sipping, savoring, and socializing. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s have coffee!
From its commitment to sustainability to its dogs-are-welcome policy, it’s no wonder Coffee Labs Roasters (7 Main St, Tarrytown 914-332-1479; coffeelabs.com) ranks as one of the most beloved coffeehouses in Westchester. Here, friendly baristas are veritable sommeliers of caffeine, not to mention latte foam art masters with a serious focus on technique. Coffee is brewed eight different ways, with a daily choice of seven varieties. Among the most popular: the Doghouse, Witches’ Brew, and Mexican Nayarita, though owner Mike Love is always on the hunt for what’s interesting. If you don’t see him chatting up guests behind the counter, it’s because he spends three months every year traveling the globe for the best blends.
Photos by Shara & Niko
â€‹The Peekskill Coffee House serves coffee from local micro-roaster aroma roaster; live music, trivia nights, and other events are often held there, too.
There’s a laid-back, artsy vibe to The Peekskill Coffee House (101 S Division St, Peekskill 914-739-1287; peekskillcoffee.com), where owner Sunny Cover has created a casual hipster hangout designed for sipping the day away. The shop’s recent expansion into the space next door has only endeared itself to the neighborhood more; ditto the sweet and savory crêpes that are now part of the menu. On a given day, you’ll find at least five or 10 varieties to choose from (the beans are from Aroma in Larchmont). In true retro coffeehouse fashion, there’s free live music every Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm and on Sunday afternoons at 1 pm; the airy space also features a rotation of local art.
Aroma (1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont 914-834-0989; aromacoffeeroast.com) is the David to the Starbucks Goliath directly across the street. It’s been in business 20 years and counting (long before the national chain came to town), and owner David Nadelson credits his shop’s longevity to the high-quality coffee poured into every cup. Beans are roasted in small batches steps away from where you place your order. Expect six different varieties daily, announced in cheery handwriting on the chalkboard behind the counter. Those of you who can’t go a day without your morning joe are in luck: Aroma is open 365 days a year. Bring your own mug for a discounted price.
You can smell the aromatic blends wafting out of Slave to the Grind (58 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville 914-961-7777), and this bohemian space always seems to be percolating with crowds, in particular high-schoolers and Sarah Lawrence students. Yes, it’s a bit worn around the edges with its crowded register area, wall of beans, and community board overflowing with paper notices (yes, paper, my young readers!), but that’s, in part, what makes it so cool. The fun and interesting flavors include banana cream pie, oatmeal cookie crumble, and red velvet cupcake (there are also, of course, the typical hazelnut and French vanilla). The other big claim to fame? The shop’s large variety of iced coffee combinations—on a given day there are at least ten.
The list of coffee drinks is long at Tazza Café (382 Main St, Armonk 914-273-0788; tazzacafeny.com; locations also in Millwood, Somers, Katonah, and Ridgefield, CT), which offers seven different varieties daily, from the deep, mellow Colombian roast to the ever-popular robust House Blend to fun, seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Spice. If you’re not too busy perusing the beans you can buy for home, you’ll be eying the house-made baked goods (try the French toast muffin top). There’s also a nice selection of gluten-free items.
Talk about a double-shot of pure coffee love: The Black Cow Coffee Company (4 Old Post Rd South, Croton-On-Hudson 914-271-7544; 7 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville 914-495-3726; blackcow.com) is the epitome of the cozy, classic, neighborhood café, where everyone seems to know each other and the coffee is roasted on the premises. In Croton, 21 different varieties; in Pleasantville, there are 10 daily varieties and five decafs, all of which span the globe from Brazil to Costa Rica. While coffee is the focus, the sense of community is palatable with warm smiles served up alongside muffins and bagels. To that point: Regulars bring in their own mugs and the staff at “The Cow,” as it is often called, wash and store them onsite. The Croton location features live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays along with movies and lectures. There are also rotating art exhibits and various community events.
Larchmont resident Jeanne Muchnick (jeanne muchnick.com) has a sign in her kitchen that reads: “Crabby till I get my coffee.” (And she’s not kidding!)