| ROUNDUP | The Coffee. Where Is All The Coffee in Jersey City?
Just writing the title of this post made me anxious to indeed find the coffee. Is that just me, or an all-moms (sorry dads, I mean all parents) thing? Either way, let's make haste to the java with the B+aBBQ list of local coffee shops. There's some truly fantastic coffee around us, and some okay coffee -- a year ago, there were not a ton of shops, but good coffee was present. Throughout 2014, new coffee shops sprang up left and right, especially on our street (Erie Street). This post is updated any time I try a great new spot.
In the spirit of keeping things positive, even the just-okay coffee shops have their own perks. I've used a ranking system of glitter rainbow stars from 1-5 so that you truly keep perspective on my system of judgment (hint: it's my tastebuds).
Really, I'm just trying to help lead my fellow parents to the caffeine injection because let's be frank, some mornings it's the only thing that gets you out of bed. You can judge for yourself from there.
Dedicated coffee shops:
Who: modcup coffee (4.9999 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Jersey City Heights (or "The Heights" if you're hip) and in The Kitchen at Grove Station What: This is by far our favorite coffee in Jersey City, as you may already know by this post, and now that they've just opened up a counter within The Kitchen at Grove Station (near the Grove St PATH station), we're all in trouble. Their original shop in Jersey City Heights is awesome, but sometimes I don't want to push a stroller up that godforsaken hill. Their claim to fame is not-bitter-because-they're-fresh-roasted beans, and their coffee flavors are shockingly sweet and tasty because of it. No added sugar nor dairy/soy/almond milk is necessary. Plus, the owners are absolute coffee freaks, and who better to get your coffee from than the most coffee-passionate men in town (either that or they've had one too many from the Nitro keg)? On the Socialwebs:
Who: Dames Coffee Espresso Bar (4.5 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Downtown Jersey City just off The Village and Harsimus Cove near Historic Downtown What: Dames is just delicious. Their baristas are meticulous about the craft of creating your drink with Counter Culture coffee; they make each cup with care and it is consistently just delicious. The shop is located across from the Key Food grocery store which, despite getting a lot of hate from others, I love. So I find an excuse far too often to cross the street on the way in or on the way out of "just picking something up at the grocery store." Also, it's only a few blocks from our spot in Hamilton Park. Convenient and yummy = yes, please. It's a very small shop, so I feel pretty bad (and eager to take-out) when I have a stroller in tow, but never because they make me feel so -- it's just the available space in the place. On the Socialwebs:
Who: The Warehouse Cafe (4.5 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Downtown Jersey City in the Powerhouse Arts District What: Of the shops downtown, Warehouse is probably the most popular and the biggest, though it's still not that big. But they have tables outside during the lovely months, which expands the space. Helpful, since this place is always packed. There are often things going on here, and their baristas maintain that air of I-make-your-coffee-therefore-I-am-superior-to-you that is stereotypically expected of a good shop (and let's be frank, you'd die without them, so their attitude is not entirely untrue). They serve Intelligentsia coffee and a selection of baked goods and sandwiches. For us, it's a little out-of-the-way, but when I'm even remotely nearby, I make the detour for a cup, even if I've already had three that day. On the Socialwebs:
Who: 9 Bar Cafe (4.4 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Downtown Jersey City on Erie Street What: Taking over the old Balance salon space, the new 9 Bar Cafe and its owner, Stefania Cocozza (who was born and raised in Rome), have quickly settled in and brought vibrant new life into the space. It's now a beautiful little cafe that is always full of people enjoying 9 Bar's offerings. In addition to the full lineup of coffee and espresso essentials (which they take very seriously), 9 Bar also serves breakfast, lunch and an array of baked goods and pastries. I had a gluten-free carrot bran muffin of some sort (I'm not GF, it just sounded delish, and was) and a cappuccino on my first visit, and I was a very happy camper. On the Socialwebs:
Who: Smith & Chang (4.7 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Hamilton Park (Erie Street at Pavonia Ave.) What: Once a department store with a small town general store feel, Smith & Chang underwent a little renovation at the end of 2014, and came out the other side as a cafe that still carries a smaller collection of goods -- mostly its own delicious bath products, which are free of parabens, gluten, SLS, perfume and animal testing. But the cafe serves all varieties of espresso, coffee/hot beverages, as well as food. There is a great amount of seating for those wishing to stay a while to enjoy the environment, the cafecitos and the food. This beautiful store and cafe is a must-check-see on the Jersey City scene. On the Socialwebs:
Who: The Coffee Bar at Carrino Provisions (4.6 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Downtown Jersey City on Erie Street What: We all know how happy I am (and the rest of the city is) about the arrival of Carrino Provisions. But an additional perk? The Coffee Bar within, open 7AM- 10 PM on weekdays and 8AM-10PM on weekends, serving illy coffee. So in addition to picking up my meats, fish, pasta, pesto brussels sprouts, baguette, truffle oil (and the list, and bill, goes on...), I also grab a cappuccino on my way out. Shopping for delicious gourmet goods can be exhausting, making a caffeine boost on your way out the door (or in just passing by) perfectly acceptable. On the Socialwebs:
Restaurant/not-coffee-only shops with coffee worth noting:
Who: BASIC Coffee and Deli (3.75 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Hamilton Park What: Basic is just that: basic. While the coffee is decent, what I truly appreciate here is that a cup of coffee costs what a cup of coffee should cost, instead of what a sandwich should cost (but they'll get you with an extra charge for the almond milk - that always drives me nuts). It's just a couple blocks from my house, so on mornings where we've run out of coffee, we'll often run over to Basic for a cup (either Basic or Dames, above). Being a deli, they also have great breakfast sandwiches and lunch options, so depending on the time of day you want coffee, you can get a full meal at Basic and be happy. On the Socialwebs: ... I can't find any social presence for Basic. Leave a comment below if you have a tip.
Who: Choc-O-Pain (4.5 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Historic Downtown Jersey City What: Choc-O-Pain is a French bakery that serves up yummy espresso drinks. So, what I'm saying is yeah, you can get your coffee here and it will be tasty. But more importantly, you can get your pain au chocolat here, or your croissant, or your almond croissant or your baguettes, or your... you get my point. You ain't leaving with just a cafe. And you won't be mad about it, either. On the Socialwebs:
Who: La Conguita (4.5 glitter rainbow stars) Where: Historic Downtown Jersey City What: Our world is not complete without at least a decent Cuban coffee nearby, and La Conguita serves that need. It's a good cup, and as above, if you're smart, you won't stop at just the coffee. La Conguita is one of our favorite casual Latin spots in town, serving up delicious daily Cuban lunch specials (hint for the exhausted mom: pick up a few takeout lunch specials before 3 PM and these generous portions will save your butt from cooking for the night, while a Cafe con Leche -- coffee with milk -- will get you through those sometimes-neverending-afternoon-hours that lead up to Crappy Hour). On the Socialwebs:
On the B+aBBQ Family-Friendly Food + Drink Rating scale, all of these shops are cool with kids/babies and with you wheeling a stroller into the place... to a point. A coffee shop is a coffee shop, and they are usually not spacious environments (applies to all of the above) and they are usually full of folks who have made the shop into their home office and therefore children distract and annoy them and they pause to give you a wicked evil eyeball. All of the more-than-just-coffee shops on this list are 100% cool about kids and you will be 100% comfortable there.
Now, go get that caffeine buzz on!
* This is the list of shops that I've tried so far (as is always the case on this blog). So don't get angry if your favorite is not on the list. Just give me the heads-up in the comments below and you bet your macchiato that I'll check it out sooner than later!