Buffalo’s best coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks

A quick run-down of Buffalo’s coffee culture


Whatever you look for in a coffee shop – be it hot coffee or the right atmosphere – a coffee shop is a cornerstone to the collegial experience. Thankfully, Buffalo has all kinds to offer, below are just a few.


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128 Fargo Ave.

Lower West Side

Open: Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This brick-exterior coffee shop is well on its way to becoming a Buffalo icon. Strong, if not a little over-priced coffee, meets a simple but effective menu featuring “stuff on toast.”

The interior is industrial and minimalist, making it unique from many other local coffee shops. Tipico boasts a broad range of coffees and their signature drink is worth trying. They blend real coconut milk with espresso over ice.

On a warm summer day, you’ll find people sprawled across the large open windowsills, adding a whimsical note to the otherwise severe interior. The perfect place to talk loudly about the evils of our political system – just try the avocado toast and coconut milk-cold brew first.

Buffalo Rome

Best hospitality

388 Porter Ave.

Hours: Mon. through Friday: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If your loveable grandparents opened a coffee shop, it would be Buffalo Rome. It’s a little less hip but plenty more cozy than Tipico. NPR is always playing which gives it that familiar feel, like you’re in someone’s house. The owner is always behind the counter preparing the food and engaging with the customers. As you can imagine, the result is pretty delicious. Their menu includes classics like the cinnamon buns but also sophisticated takes on breakfast sandwiches, featuring the melted Brie cheese and asparagus.

The downside to this place is its hours, which are not very generous to the average student lifestyle. The best way to enjoy all that Buffalo Rome has to offer is to wake up early on a Saturday morning and make a day out of it.

SPoT Coffee

Best of Buffalo

765 Elmwood Ave.

Hours: Monday through Thursday: 6 a.m. to 11p.m., Friday: 6 a.m. to 12a.m., Saturday: 7a.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday: 7a.m. to 11p.m.

It may be less exciting and new to read about, but there is a reason SPoT is usually my first thought when I want to go somewhere to study and get coffee. The Elmwood Avenue location seems to recall the best aspects of Buffalo.

The mismatched furniture and splashy murals make for an eclectic vibe. Tables and benches accommodate larger groups, but given its popularity and location, it can be tricky to land the table you’d like.

For reasonably priced, good-tasting coffee, SPoT always delivers. Its salads and paninis are also very good, so it’s a nice place to meet up with a friend for lunch. This is not a place for dessert – it’s possible they just can’t turn over desserts fast enough to sell fresh, but until they figure it out, save yourself the calories.

SPoT reminds us of the best parts of Buffalo: on the coldest Buffalo nights, inside is a warm buzz of people and culture. Whether sitting on the patio on a gorgeous August afternoon, or searching for the bathroom in a state of helpless inebriation on a 40-degree St. Patrick’s Day, SPoT is there to bear witness to Buffalo in all its quirky splendor.

Caffe Aroma

Best place to casually get wine-drunk while still feeling superior

957 Elmwood Ave.

Open: Monday through Saturday: 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Situated on the corner of Bidwell and Elmwood Avenue, this little gem is the essence of the Elmwood Village. Caffe Aroma is the longest-standing locally owned coffee shop in Buffalo that features Italian-style coffee, food and desserts. Visitor’s discretion: it’s right next to Talking Leaves bookstore, so between that and its encapsulating Euro-charm, the hipster presence is definitely felt. But come on, it’s a coffee shop.

During the warmer spell, people-watch on the patio late into the evening or get the espresso to go and hang around Elmwood for a few hours. Boutiques, yoga, tacos – whatever you’re feeling, Elmwood’s got it.

Another reason to fall in love: whether you need to get your life together or just feel better about it falling apart, you’ll be taken care of at Aroma since they serve coffee and hard beverages.

Daily Planet Coffee Co.

Best new coffee on the block

1862 Hertel Ave.

Open: Monday through Thursday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday: 7 a.m. -10 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

The first thing you notice when you walk into Daily Planet is the beautiful wooden stage for performers, who play regularly Thursday through Sunday. The atmosphere is not pretentious, but rather warm, inviting and relatively spacious.

The coffee itself is well-roasted and the baristas seem easy-going and willing to chat with customers, while still remaining sincere.

Finally, the defining difference between the decent and the delicious coffee shops is fresh desserts. It is the single most disappointing experience in this life to eye up a pastry for ten minutes, only to realize it’s three days old and still full-price. None of that nonsense here – the desserts are moist and flavorful and they offer many gluten-free and Vegan options.

Sarah Crowley is the assistant news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com