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Best Coffee Houses/Bars in NJ?

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RPMcMurphy Sep 20, 2008 01:15 PM

Anyone have a good list or any recommendations.

Had a hankering to go to the Inkwell today in Long Branch, I dig that place a lot (we'll I did when I was younger) but after the 40 minute drive, I remembered it was closed on Saturdays during the day (fiance actually looked inside and thought it was closed for renovations?)

Thanks.

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    alliekat79 RE: RPMcMurphy Sep 21, 2008 08:53 PM

    I'm a big fan of Espresso Joe's on Front St in Keyport. I'm not sure what area you were looking for, but I've always enjoyed this place.

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      TedyB RE: RPMcMurphy Sep 22, 2008 07:13 AM

      Try No-Joe's Cafe in Red Bank...pretty good place..especially if the weather is nice and you can sit out on the street.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TedyB
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        RPMcMurphy RE: TedyB Sep 22, 2008 09:00 AM

        Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give them a try!

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        HillJ RE: RPMcMurphy Sep 22, 2008 08:14 AM

        Over the weekend CH, amv, recommended Tavolo Pronto in Fair Haven for breakfast and I would add that their coffee bar is top notch.

        http://www.tavolopronto.com/

        1. val ann c RE: RPMcMurphy Sep 22, 2008 12:24 PM

          I like Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters in Leonardo. A very relaxing place, right on RT 36. Their pastries are from The Flaky Tart.
          http://www.jerseyshorecoffeeroasters....
          64b Thompson Ave.
          Leonardo, NJ 07737
          (732) 291-0505

          Also, the place is right on the highway, but the neighborhood in back is charming. You can walk a few blocks and view the Bay.

          1. mearphird RE: RPMcMurphy Oct 11, 2008 12:48 PM

            Nothings better than Small World Cafe in Princeton!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mearphird
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              Heatherb RE: mearphird Dec 10, 2008 06:32 AM

              Seconding that! It's my favorite stop whenever I'm in the area.

            2. ambrose RE: RPMcMurphy Oct 11, 2008 04:05 PM

              Rojo's Roastery in Lambertville has an outstanding selection of coffees.

              http://www.rojosroastery.com/

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                freaknut101 RE: RPMcMurphy Mar 29, 2012 09:39 PM

                After moving back to northern NJ from the SF bay area, I searched feverishly for a genuine coffee house- a place that serves a quality cup of quality coffee, fair variety, and with an inviting atmosphere. To say I have been left disappointed would be an understatement.

                6 Replies
                1. re: freaknut101
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                  maryanne06 RE: freaknut101 Mar 30, 2012 05:11 AM

                  Sook Bakery in Ridgewood has the very best coffee and The Fine Grind in Little Falls is also wonderful. Maybe nothing in NJ is like the SF bay area?

                  1. re: maryanne06
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                    freaknut101 RE: maryanne06 Mar 30, 2012 08:02 AM

                    Looks like I came to the right place. Glad to get some input from the locals. I'm sure there are solid coffee houses in the area. Seems like they are diamonds in the rough. I haven't gotten a chance to give Fine Grind and Sook a visit yet but I'll be looking forward to it. Any suggestions for places in the Montclair or Hoboken area? Best luck I've had so far has been Empire Coffee and Tea and Dames. Both places offer a good drip. I would have to give the edge to Dames on their drip. My favorite so far. Empire takes the cake with whole bean selection. Unfortunately, neither has adequate seating or offers hand pour coffee. Ready to trek into Brooklyn for a cup of Bluebottle. Well... I wouldn't actually go all the way there just for the coffee. I'm not that crazy. But if I was in the area, I'd make it a point to stop by. Thanks again for the suggestions. Much appreciated.

                  2. re: freaknut101
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                    BrianYarvin RE: freaknut101 Mar 30, 2012 05:51 AM

                    Cup of quality coffee? Surely Rojo's in Lambertville, Riverside in Clinton, America's Cup in Asbury Park, Small World in Princeton, and Higher Grounds in West Cape May fit that description. Indeed, if you visited each of the places I mentioned, you'd have a pretty good tour of the state.

                    1. re: BrianYarvin
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                      freaknut101 RE: BrianYarvin Mar 30, 2012 08:04 AM

                      Hi Brian. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give those a visit when I'm in the area

                    2. re: freaknut101
                      JustJake RE: freaknut101 Mar 30, 2012 09:35 AM

                      What you won't find here freaknut is anything that resembles places in Marin or Sonomoa. One of my favorites was the 'Coffee Bazaar' as you have in Guernerville. Think of that place often - cool hang, wi-fi, great music, even greater coffeee, pastries and sandwiches.

                      There's nothing like that here in NJ. If you do find, let me know.

                      1. re: JustJake
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                        freaknut101 RE: JustJake Mar 30, 2012 09:43 AM

                        That was my biggest worry. It took a short while for my palate to adjust to Bay Area cuisine but when it did, a whole new world opened and now I am hooked. You described exactly the type of place I'm searching for. Thanks to everyone for the replies. Please keep me in the loop. I'm sure New Jersey will come through sooner or later. Until then, I'll be on the lookout.

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                      HillJ RE: RPMcMurphy Mar 30, 2012 08:02 AM

                      NJ can boast to having some fine coffee roasting houses. So, if the dilemma is the flavor..buy from a rep and brew your own!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ
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                        freaknut101 RE: HillJ Mar 30, 2012 08:12 AM

                        JH. I'll look into local places that boast a solid roast. Was just hoping for a coffee house where I could sit down for a while, have a good cup of coffee, and get some work done. I did make sure to come prepared with a few bags of my favorite beans and my French press to keep me afloat. Fortunately, most of my favorite roasteries offer their beans fresh roasted and for online purchase. I'll always have some my favorites available at home for a fresh brew. Thanks again.

                        1. re: freaknut101
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                          BrianYarvin RE: freaknut101 Mar 30, 2012 12:52 PM

                          Now here's the problem; all of the places mentioned (and at least a dozen more) are comfortable places to sit with wifi and excellent coffee where you can get some work done.

                          It should be noted though that none of them will make you feel like you're in California - or even attempt to capture any mood besides the towns they're in. At Small World Coffee, you have the feeling that Albert Einstein could stroll in and order a shot at any moment and at Rojo's, most of the people there could be appraisers on Antiques Roadshow. They represent their two very different New Jersey communities perfectly.

                          This is what New Jersey is all about. These towns excel at what they excel in and expect you to learn the ropes.

                          1. re: BrianYarvin
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                            freaknut101 RE: BrianYarvin Mar 30, 2012 01:21 PM

                            Thanks again Brian. I'm by no means longing for somewhere to make me feel like I am in California. Likewise, when I am out West I don't dare search for things unique to New Jersey. Understandably, each region has it's own vibe and appeal. Having spent most of my life in New Jersey, I've come to recognize and appreciate the nuances of each town and it's people. For now, I spend most of my time in northern New Jersey (Essex and Bergen counties) and am concentrating my efforts here. I am happy to see all the suggestions and will make it a point to visit when I am in the area.

                            1. re: freaknut101
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                              jmoryl RE: freaknut101 Mar 31, 2012 09:10 AM

                              I empathize 100% with your dilemma. I live in Essex and good coffee bars are extremely rare (like totally absent). Here are some places you might like, although they are scattered around. Unfortunately, I haven't been to some in months, and things change:

                              Ridgewood Coffee Company: one of the places that takes coffee very seriously (Intelligentsia beans, good equipment, etc...), OK but not great for hanging out.

                              The Warehouse, Jersey City, Bay St.: stumbled upon this while badly needing a coffee and was pleased to find Intelligentsia beans, nice snacks and a comfy place to hang. Only open to 6 pm, however.

                              Drip, Main St., Madison: not much good coffee in Morris County either, but this is a nice little place using the excellent Gimme! beans from Ithaca.

                              I tend to stop in Rojo's whenever I'm in Lambertville and Small World when in Princeton. The former is a very serious coffee geek place, but for some reasons, their beans, while decent, don't thrill me. And I enjoy the college town vibe at Small World, they are serious over-roasters, IMO.

                              1. re: jmoryl
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                                freaknut101 RE: jmoryl Apr 2, 2012 07:59 PM

                                Was in Ridgewood and got to give two Hound recommendations a visit today-

                                Ridgewood Coffee Company- Easily the best cup of in house coffee I was able to find so far. Glad to see a place do a hand pour. Had a go at their Kenyan which I was delightfully surprised to see on the chalkboard. Complex and full bodied with probably the most muted citrus undertone I've experienced from a Kenyan. Solid cup. Plenty of options for coffee and tea. Behind the counter, a new worker was being shown the ropes. I was particularly impressed to see how detailed one of the workers was being when explaining the process of crafting different beverages. These guys definitely take their coffee seriously. Very nice to see. In addition to a small selection of pastries, RWCC also offers a few vegan and vegetarian items on their menu. Free wireless internet and a clean restroom is a nice plus. Seating is modest but the the place never seemed to get all too crowded so I'd have to judge it as adequate with all things considered. Parking is metered so bring coins.

                                Sook Pastry Shop- Being a bakery/pastry shop, t's known for it's pastries and rightfully so. Behind the counter are little pieces of art that took me back to my days on a little French island in the Caribbean. Visually, the pastries are stunning. I was only able to sample the croissant, the almond croissant, and the macaroons but will make it a point to try some of the other treats on my next visit. I have to admit, the croissant did not live to expectations. Ironically, the almond croissant was excellent. The macaroons were out of this world. Easily one of the best I've had Stateside. I'd go back just for those. The coffee served was illy- Not the best but good nonetheless. Free wireless internet is offered. Parking is also metered. The traffic was a little more subdued than at RWCC and again, there was adequate seating considering the crowd.

                                I'm excited to try other spots, especially those mentioned in Central and South Jersey. Thanks for all the replies!

                                1. re: jmoryl
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                                  Desidero RE: jmoryl Apr 9, 2012 12:57 PM

                                  I second the Warehouse in Jersey City. I've worked in the area for a number of years and this place is a diamond in the rough. It's in a remote, industrial area of JC, though, more reminiscent of Berlin than NYC. That said, I'm a big fan of the place and while the prices are on the higher side, the quality can't be beaten in Jersey City.

                        2. ambrose RE: RPMcMurphy Apr 2, 2012 06:50 AM

                          Clinton actually has three coffee bars, which is unusual given the size of the town.

                          Imho, Riverside is by far the best. Each cup of coffee is made fresh; it hasn't been sitting in a jug for hours. They also have a terrific selection of other beverages but I have to say the pastries are only so so. The other thing Riverside has going for it is the location, right next to the South Branch of the Raritan River. When the weather co-operates, you can sit outside at one of the small tables.

                          Citispot, which used to be in the location now occupied by Riverside, is right across the street. I never particularly liked Citispot and my opinion has not changed since they moved. The 'baristas' are very young and seem to be more interested in laughing and chatting with one another than serving customers. They also don't do a good job keeping the place looking clean. It's off putting.

                          The third place is part of The Garden Gourmet, a small restaurant only about 5 minutes walk from the center of town. I haven't been there since it first opened but I do recall having a wonderful pastry there. Really need to go back and check it out.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: ambrose
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                            DaMan RE: ambrose Apr 10, 2012 07:22 PM

                            Have you tried Mara's in Denville? A little more cafeish and known for their desserts but they roast right in house with this crazy machine. Hooked for sure, I have meetings there 2 or so times a week, and at other coffee places the rest of the week, best coffee by far. I get a pound a week or so to take home also, favorite has been the Mighty Bold blend. Not a huge latte/cappo guy but most people I meet with seem to get those and always love them even though most have no idea what fresh roasted coffee actually means.

                            http://www.marascafe.com/
                            http://www.facebook.com/marasdesserts

                            1. re: DaMan
                              ambrose RE: DaMan Apr 11, 2012 05:35 AM

                              I have not tried Mara's but I will make a point of dropping in the next time I'm in the Denville area. I do not live close by but I have friends in Denville whom I see 3-4 times a year. Thanks very much for the heads up.

                              1. re: ambrose
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                                lemarais RE: ambrose Apr 14, 2012 05:02 PM

                                Anyone ever had the Starbucks coffee made in the Clover machine? This is only available at a small number of locations (Englewood and Montclair are the only ones I know of). However, the coffee from that machine is awesome! They will brew just about any Starbucks coffee available, it's a big machine that does some type of fancy steam and drip process. It's wonderful!

                                I don't know why they don't promote this Clover system more, but do give it a try!

                                1. re: lemarais
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                                  BrianYarvin RE: lemarais Apr 14, 2012 05:46 PM

                                  There's a Clover machine in Westfield too.

                                  The machines are made in tiny quantity and aren't all that easy to use and maintain. Even though Clover is now owned by Starbucks and they've cut off all other customers, they still can't make enough machines to meet the demand.

                                  BTW...I'm a pretty regular Starbucks customer but even the Clover coffee isn't in the league of the places we've discussed in this thread. All have their place in my life though.

                                  1. re: lemarais
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                                    punkin712 RE: lemarais Apr 17, 2012 05:43 AM

                                    There is a Clover in Princeton too. I'm not sure if it's the beans or the machine, but the coffee made in the Clover definitely tastes better than the standard Starbucks brew. Flavor seems "cleaner", if that makes any sense.

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