Brew Review: New Haven’s Best Coffee Shops

In case you were wondering, Josh Levinson drinks his coffee “with one Splenda, and a splash of milk.” Yes, a splash. (Ed Note: We were.) Growing up, it was my understanding that drinking coffee was a rite of passage into adulthood; like that first kiss, or a pimple.

Zack Morris to the rescue.
Zack Morris to the rescue.

When I was finally allowed a cup of coffee, it meant I was old enough to be part of the conversation; which was mostly Italian hand gestures.

It's hard for me to take your seriously with that tiny cup.
It’s hard for me to take your seriously with that tiny cup.

I got my first cup when I was 12. My first kiss came shortly after. I’ve been having romantic rendezvous with New Haven coffee shops since college. I admire them; the way they smell, the warmth, the style, the frothy sounds the machines make. The conversation. The game of musical chairs. The jazzy feel.

I bet they went out for coffee after this photo shoot.
I bet they wrote their raps over coffee.

A cup of coffee can be the start of something good.

Coffee sounds great.
Coffee sounds great.

Or the end to something bad.

Nothing like some closure over coffee.
Nothing like a good cup of closure.

There is coffee all over this city; not like someone dumped coffee all over the city, but there’s a lot to choose from. There’s no bad coffee in New Haven, or a bad coffee shop unless of course you hate red cups. Each coffee shop fills a unique, coffee-sized hole in our hearts:

The Weekender: The Coffee Pedaler (East Rock AND Westville)

A variety of pour overs for the coffee connoisseur, bagels with Montreal seasoning (whatever that is) and Harney & Sons Fine Teas (damn, the hot cinnamon spice is amazing – although I’m pretty sure they’re still out). The tables are good for working. Also, they have great cold brew, now available in bottles for home consumption. Drink it in the shower and you are the ultimate morning multi-tasker.

This can totally be used for coffee.
This could totally be used for coffee.

Saturday morning: East Rock Coffee (East Rock, duh.)

If you love admiring cute little families and dogs, this is the place. It’s quaint inside, but there’s a fair amount of outdoor seating. It’s packed on Saturday mornings, but feel free to imagine how to outfit the space as a tiny home while you wait. I always do. The cold brew is good as well. Sometimes they even use their special brews like Kochere an Ethopian light roast. Be sure to get it early though because they’re often out by the afternoon.

This could totally be a tiny house.
Welcome to my tiny house.

First date: Koffee (Downtown)

The Central Perk of New Haven. Good for casual conversation, and Koffee Afterdark (after 5 PM), serving wine and craft beer.  They have some board games, and there’s tiny red lights strung up all year long. Also, couches. And cupcakes. All day.

A totally acceptable morning treat.
An acceptable breakfast treat.

Sunday stroll:  Blue State Coffee (Downtown)

A staple when walking through the Broadway section of downtown. If you prefer tea they have a really good ginger one. Both locations have a lot of tables and chairs, although they are usually taken. By grad students. Who will fight you to the death for them.

American Gladiators, New Haven edition.
This dude doesn’t mess around when it comes to lattes.

The basics: Willoughby’s (Downtown)

Your standard coffee shop. Two locations. Their coffee is a favorite for many, and they have a lot of beans to brew at home. I’ve never struggled for a seat. Apparently, sitting is very important to me.

Minimalist: Fuel (Wooster Square) *Best House Coffee*

Wooster Street is the new location with the same close proximity to the outdoor farmer’s market when it returns in the spring. It’s smaller than their previous locale, but the coffee is just as great. Seating is limited to three bar stools, so best to grab your coffee and go unless you are one of the three.

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