4 Coffee Shops That Aren’t Starbucks

Whether you’re looking for a caffeine boost or a study spot, the Syracuse area has a variety of coffee shops that provide great alternatives to Starbuck’s infamously long line. Fuel up and crack open a book at four of our favorites.

Iced maple mocha latte at Recess Coffee in Syracuse’s Wescott neighborhood

Recess Coffee House

Right off Westcott, down Harvard Place, is situated Recess Coffee House, in what looks like an old house renovated just for this shop. Frequented by both SU students and locals, Recess is known for buying locally and supporting the community, and has a plethora of options. With its sustainably grown coffees, seasonal teas, flavored espresso drinks and hot chocolates, breakfast sandwiches, and baked goods, everyone is bound to find something they love. There are quite a few vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, and it’s open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. until midnight. The atmosphere is cozy, with menu items written on chalkboard walls and a mismatch of comfy furniture, worn wooden floors, and plenty of table space for a quiet afternoon of studying.

110 Harvard Place, Syracuse 

Phoebe’s Restaurant & Coffee Lounge

A little outside of Armory Square, you’ll find Phoebe’s Restaurant and Coffee Lounge, which is about a 15-minute walk from campus. The lounge, which serves coffee roasted at Wescott standby Recess (see above), is open Monday-Friday at 8 a.m. during the school year, and opens at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. There’s free WiFi and plenty of tables to spread your books out on for a long study session, or over-stuffed armchairs you can relax in for a study break. Regular and decaf coffees and teas are all available, but order a latte or cappuccino to spice things up. If you’re hungry, try one of its breakfast sandwiches or baked goods, or order something to-go from the restaurant’s lunch or mid-day menu. The prices are great for college students—nothing’s pricier than $10—and there are vegan and gluten-free options as well. The lounge is warm and cozy, with dark walls and dim lighting—perfect for one of Syracuse’s classic winter days.

900 East Genesee Street, Syracuse 

Croissant and a mocha at Café Kubal on University Avenue

Café Kubal

On any given day, you’ll find students and professors stopping in at the University Avenue location of Café Kubal, either for a quick sip in between classes, or for a few hours devoted to work. Though it’s situated amongst the bustle of Marshall Street and across from the Whitman business school, the atmosphere is generally quiet, with plenty of lighting and spots to sit, so connect to its free WiFi and get studying! The coffee (drip or pour-over) is significantly cheaper than Starbuck’s, and equally as flavorful. It also has a wide selection of teas and espresso drinks, as well as a variety of pastries and inventive sandwiches and salads. If you’re closer to downtown, check out its location on South Salina Street or James Street—either is packed with the same great coffee and drink items.

Locations at 720 University Avenue, 3501 James Street, and 401 South Salina Street, Syracuse

Freedom of Espresso

Are you shopping in Armory Square and looking for a little pick-me-up? Are your parents in town and wondering where they can grab coffee before meeting up with you? Check out Freedom of Espresso for some great coffee and tea beverages that definitely top a typical Starbucks cup. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, so spend an early morning sitting in its spacious room with plenty of tables, getting your caffeine fix, and finishing up some homework. If you’re downtown over the weekend, stop by for a cup of something to keep you going. Though it has some baked goods and pastries, Freedom of Espresso is known for its drinks, so make sure you aren’t dropping in with an empty stomach.

Locations at 144 Walton Street and 115 Solar Street, Syracuse. Other locations in Fayetteville and Liverpool


One thought on “4 Coffee Shops That Aren’t Starbucks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s