The BORED team brings you the Second Annual Café Crawl, where we surveyed the coffee scene in Downtown Burlington. Often times it just takes a cup of Joe in the morning to get you out of bed and over to class – but imagine the power of a REALLY GOOD cup of coffee…
AND for all the non-coffee drinkers we explored the best alternatives at each café (think Mexican hot chocolate and handcrafted teas). We encourage you to explore Burlington – it may be a cold journey but remember there’s a hot cup of coffee at the end of the trail.
Your BORED team
P.S. If there’s a café we didn’t cover send us your blog post and enter to win a BORED backpack!
$ – cheap
$$ – reasonable
$$$ – pricey
SPEEDER AND EARLES ON CHURCH STREET
Atmosphere: The space is a bit small, between two stores. Fairly comfortable with some local art on the walls. There are stool seats and a counter top, but no tables.
Most popular baked good: Cranberry almond biscotti
Best Coffee Alternative: Maple Latte (maple taste is not too strong, but otherwise good*) (large, $4.50), Hot Chai (small, $3.00)
Fun Fact: Speeder and Earl’s is roasted in VT, and you can try some of their drinks at the Cyber café.
Atmosphere: New Moon has an open and spacious, yet warm and welcoming feel. There are beautiful hardwood floors and tall ceilings, and the ornate light fixtures give the big back room a unique flair. There is almost always a buzz of college students with their laptops and textbooks open as they munch on sandwiches and salads. There is a cozy fireplace area in the front, and you will be pleasantly surprised to keep walking to the back to find the large, contemporary back room.
Most Popular Baked Good: New Moon makes AWESOME cupcakes that are baked right upstairs in their own kitchen. They gave them the name “cupcake kisses”, which fits them nicely because of their cute, small size. They are free of anything artificial and are made with organic and local ingredients! There are always options for those looking for gluten-free goodies. The selections vary daily so there is always time to try something new.
Best Coffee Alternative: Okay so it may not exactly be an alternative to coffee (yet), but New Moon’s smoothies are worth mentioning. You can choose from one of 5 of theirs, or design your own. They have 6 different fruits to choose from, and 5 different boosters which include bee pollen, flax seed and soy protein. They are an awesome alternative or accompaniment to breakfast and leave you full for a long time.
Price: $ (Radio Deli’s coffee is certainly not going to “break the bank”–a small to large to-go-cup ranges from 89 cents to $1.49 at most)
Atmosphere: Ambience isn’t exactly the focus at Radio Deli, which resembles more of an in-and-out stop shop than a café, but if all you need is a quickie cup of joe, it’ll certainly do the trick. There isn’t a space to sit down inside, but it’s just around the corner from a nice bench on church street or up the street from a stroll along the waterfront.
Most popular baked good: The chocolate chip cookies are a big hit, although the baked goods aren’t really the big-seller at Radio Deli–it’s a deli-made sandwich you’ll want to stop in for! You can find their sandwich menu online, but they recommend their famous meatball grinders–made with the world’s best meatballs!
Best coffee alternative: I didn’t see an abundance of your typical coffee alternatives like chai or hot cocoa at the Radio Deli scene, but because it’s a small store as well, there are all sorts of bottled sodas and juices if you’re not feeling in the mood for coffee.
BLUE BIRD COFFEE STOP
Price: $$ (The most expensive drink they have is $4.75, most are under $2.50)
Atmosphere: Casual & Relaxed
Most popular baked good: Chocolate croissant!
Best coffee alternative: Tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider
I’ve never been a big coffee guy, but after going to Blue Bird Coffee Stop, that might change. Blue Bird is a small coffee kiosk on the corner of Church Street and College Street. They offer an array of coffee, tea, and other hot drinks (not to mention some delicious baked goods!). Since it’s a kiosk and not a full restaurant it has a really casual and relaxed vibe. It’s the perfect “on your way” coffee place. It’s really easy to just stop by, pick up some coffee, and continue about your day experiencing all that Church Street has to offer. I can’t speak for the entire menu, but if the maple latte (with real maple syrup!). I had is anything to go by, then this place definitely has some of the best coffee in BTV. The staff is friendly and the very small line moved quickly as well. All in all if you need to get a quick cup of joe, then Blue Bird Coffee Stop is the place to go.
LUCKY NEXT DOOR
Price: $$ (Drip coffee is priced at $2)
Atmosphere: small space but bright and cheery
Most popular baked good: Not as many sweets as there is pub food, salads or sandwiches.
Best coffee alternative: Mexican Hot Chocolate ($2.50)
Fun Fact: Lucky is the name of the owner’s dog
Open from 11am – 8pm on weekdays, Lucky Next Door is a little, rectangular café beaming with lots of natural light. Their later hours are intended to attract professionals and students who want to grab a cup of coffee or pint of Switchback after work or class. LND shares the same kitchen as its older sister, Penny Cluse, so customers can still order the baked Mac & Cheese or Hash Brown casserole past lunch hours. LND has their own blend of coffee and Espresso, both of which are definitely worth trying!
Atmosphere: Maglineros, located a bit off the beaten path, is a gem that’s worth the extra walk. It’s huge with tables spaced greatly for an open, modern feel. It’s a great study spot, complete with a comfy beanbag chair corner. One of it’s most unique features is the bike ramp leading to a safe, indoor bike room. No need to worry about locking your bike outside, you can take it in and enjoy your meal carefree.
Most Popular Baked Good: Their cinnamon buns are to die for. Raisins included.
Best Coffee Alternative: Maglinero handcrafts their own tea, as well as their coffee. Try some out!
Atmosphere: Busy but cozy
Most Popular Baked Good: Lemon Cake
Best Coffee Alternative: Large tea selection & hot chocolate
It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon and I had just gotten back from skiing in the morning, and I really needed a cup of coffee. I decided to stop at Uncommon Grounds on Church Street. When I walked in I was overwhelmed with the smell of coffee. I could see the barista’s working on lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate. I got in line at the counter and was enticed by the baked goods sitting in the case. All of the baked goods come from local Vermont bakeries and are truly delicious. It is too difficult to say which one is the best, but my personal favorite is the lemon cake. It is flavorful and colorful, making it all the more fun to eat! To go along with my lemon cake I ordered a basic cup ‘o joe. The beans were grown in Guatemala – I discovered this by doing a little research on their website. The price for a small cup of coffee was $2.00 with tax. The lemon cake was around $4.00, but it was a large piece of cake, easily split between 2 people. For the quality of food I would say this is a fair price, considering this was the most satisfying cup of coffee I have had in a long time. Pair that with the lemon cake and it was quite the experience. After purchasing my lemon cake and coffee I looked for a place to sit. Uncommon Grounds is a large building, but it is ‘skinny’. There is not a lot of room to sit, and the line of tables going all the way into the back of the café was full. I decided to sit at the counter looking out of the window on to Church Street. Once I sat down and began indulging in my goodies I watched the line at the counter stretch out the door. Overall, the experience was a 4 out of 5. Finding a comfortable place to sit and enjoy my coffee was the only strenuous part of the journey. I would most definitely recommend checking out Uncommon Grounds if you haven’t already. It is a great place to meet people, everyone who helped me was friendly, and even though the place is thin, it is cozy and welcoming. If you are not a coffee-drinker they have a large tea selection, and their hot chocolate is also amazing.