NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Coffee lovers know that not just any cup will do.
And these days, the shop and its atmosphere are almost as important as the brew. That’s especially true for Rutgers University students and professionals who work from home and spend much of their time in these communal spaces.
Luckily, the Hub City has no shortage of top-notch coffeeshops. Downtown New Brunswick and the area near Rutgers, in particular, are home to a number of cafes that offer unique cups of coffee that aim to pep you up and please your tastebuds. Many of these businesses also serve tasty treats, while doubling as a hangout for the laptop crowd.
TAPinto New Brunswick compiled a list of the city’s quintessential coffeeshops. Here they are, in no particular order.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees, 120 Albany St.
Across from the train station, this calm cafe serves everything from caffeinated chillers and flavored coffees to homemade sweets and sandwiches. And each is a treat. Friendly and knowledgable baristas are happy to point customers toward something new—there’s nearly always a fresh menu item—but don’t try to up-sell. Plus, the Wi-Fi runs smoothly, and seats and tables abound. Don’t forget to talk to the franchisee, who’s known to come by with a free sample, and check out the Australian decor.
Hidden Grounds Espresso Bar, 4C Easton Ave.
Few Rutgers students haven’t visited this fledgling New Brunswick institution since it opened its first location in 2013. The owners pride themselves on buying and grinding coffee beans from the “finest sources.” Cold brew, made-to-order sandwiches and espresso drinks are sure to satisfy. This branch—the company’s second spot—sits below busy Easton Avenue, welcoming visitors to pull up a chair and take a load off, either at a communal table or a smaller high-top.
Legal Grounds Cafe, 55 Bayard St.
More of a breakfast and lunch spot, Legal Grounds is a must for downtown professionals and visitors to neighboring government buildings. The restaurant’s coffee, both inexpensive and delicious, provides many a weekday jolt to the area’s movers and shakers. But don’t pass on its sandwich menu, which includes deli classics, a full spread of grilled cheeses and even a torta.
Starbucks at The Yard, 38 College Ave.
Did you honestly think that a Starbucks wouldn’t make this list? This new addition to Rutgers’ College Avenue Campus is a godsend for students rushing to catch the bus. Those looking to get cozy, however, may also find something to enjoy here. The windowed building makes for a perfect spot to people-watch. What’s more, customers can buy a latte and hang out on the nearby lawn or outdoor seating.
Hidden Grounds Coffee, 106 Easton Ave.
The first Hidden Grounds location, this coffeeshop is right in the middle of college country. Its subterranean seating—at sturdy wooden tables and a wraparound bar—can handle as many books, friends and coffee cups as you desire. Like its sister shop, this Hidden Grounds brews laudable gourmet joe and snacks. Whether you’re in need of a hangover cure or a study session, this place has you covered.
Caffe Bene, 356 George St.
In South Korea, Caffe Bene is the franchise to get coffee. The spot in downtown New Brunswick serves as a strong argument in favor of that reputation. The low-lit hangout is run by nice folks who pump out quality coffee and delectable desserts. The space itself is expansive and cozy. Overall, it offers a nice retreat from George Street, where customers can comfortably chat, work or relax.