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Albany’s Coziest Local Cafés for Studying

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Maybe it’s because there’s an endless amount of espresso. Maybe it’s being in the company of strangers flowing in and out; but being in a cafe makes me concentrate on what I need to get done. While Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are both well and good, they don’t provide me with that workflow environment compared to some of the smaller shops that can only be found in Albany. Here are a few of my favorites!

Healthy on Lark

274 Lark St, Albany, NY

Previously known as “Little Buddha Café,” Healthy on Lark came to Albany June of last summer.  Under new management, the overall vibe remains untouched. Healthy on Lark, as the name suggests, is a local dive serving exclusively vegetarian and vegan food, tucked under a storefront window along Lark street. The interior of the café is small––but cozy. Tables tucked away share a cushion that loops around among other wooden chairs as the tables themselves are scattered about. Sharon Lastique, the new owner, says taking on Healthy on Lark is “a labor of love,” as she herself has been vegetarian for over 25 years. Serving an array of food, from vegan BLT’s to a protein packed chickpea burger, all ingredients are sourced from local farms (Saratoga Apple, Slack Hollow, and Dennison to name a few). The drink menu is just––if not more––impressive when it comes to options that are not only delicious, but also leave you energized after indulging. The menu offers house crafted juices to detoxify the kidney, liver and digestive system, such as the Purple Dive, made up of beets, radish, apple, and cucumber. For the less rebellious (or ambitious, in my case) the smoothie menu offers delicious healthy options such as Funky Monkey, made up of banana, coconut milk, and peanut butter, or Lark Buzz which consists of organic coffee, almond milk, banana, cinnamon and raw cocoa.

Hudson River Coffee House

227 Quail St, Albany, NY 12203

Situated in in the middle of downtown Albany, Hudson River Coffee House sits along Quail Street, dubbed a favorite of many in the surrounding neighborhood of Pine Hills. Upon walking in, one can expect to smell the sweet aroma of coffee being brewed and fresh bagels being toasted. The bagels are delivered fresh every morning from Rockland Bakery! With an environment similar to that of a library—aside from the subtle instrumental notes of a piano playing in the background or the 3D metal installations hung on the wall—the ambiance is ideal for studying. Large glass windows account for most of the light swept into the café, but lights overhead sturdy wooden tables create a dimly lit and warm atmosphere. Their food menu mainly consists of a variety of hoagies and their coffee selection is far from scant. It’s easy to grab a quick bite and snuggle up in a red velvet chair with your choice of espresso. As an added bonus, this is your spot for late night group study sessions as the café is open until midnight. Students can also unwind by attending (or, heck, even performing!) in the cafes daily Starving Artist Thursday open mics, starting at 8:30 p.m.

Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary

217 Wolf Rd, Albany, NY, 12205

Nestled in the corner of Wolf Road among bustling cars, this café is exactly what the name implies: a sanctuary. With fresh coffee beans roasted every day, the selections are both delicious and ideal for giving you that swift kick of energy we often need via caffeine. Take for instance the Javachino, a cold drink blended with espresso, cream, ice and your choice of flavoring. Or perhaps on the warmer side, a Javabomber, a 12 oz. latte (you choose the flavor) made with steamed cream and a double shot of espresso, topped with whipped cream. With three separate rooms separated by red curtains, customers can rent out a room for a music get-together or simply find a quiet spot next to a heat generator. Many customers can be seen plugged into a laptop, while others meet up for a quick sip of tea and some lunch.

Stacks Espresso

260 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210

Right along Lark Street sits the sophisticated Stacks Espresso. Stacks has a more modern feel with polished hardwood floors and tables along each side of the spacious main dining room. Tall glass windows that extend along the storefront allow customers to sit on high stools as they sip classics like Stacks Cappuccino, which are brewed with all milk ingredients coming from local Battenkill Valley Creamery. This café is especially good for midday studying, as they close relatively early some nights at 8 p.m.

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