Five student-approved cafes to replace your Starbucks addiction

Student-approved cafes near campus

Students spill the beans on where to find the best coffee near campus.

Recess Coffee opened in Westcott in 2007, and has since expanding to three locations across Syracuse.
Son Nguyen
Recess Coffee opened in Westcott in 2007, and has since expanded to three locations across Syracuse.

Last year, the acclaimed Marshall Street near Syracuse University lost a hot spot on the block – Starbucks. The closing of the beloved coffee shop left students with no choice but to explore different cafes to fulfill their caffeine cravings. 

During the height of pumpkin spice season, Starbucks’ presence is missed more than ever. “Schoolyard Bagels,” a Syracuse alumni-owned deli, will soon replace Starbucks on the corner of University Avenue and Marshall Street. Until the new shop opens, here is a list of SU students’ favorite spots for coffee and a guide for food and drink orders. 

Recess Coffee

Recess Coffee offers a diverse menu ranging from bagels to healthy smoothies and vegan baked goods. Recess has a location in the Westcott neighborhood, just a fifteen-minute walk from campus.

“This time of year, students are ordering a lot of warm, chocolate-based drinks like the peppermint mocha or traditional hot chocolate,” Recess barista David Peters said. 

Peters shared that his personal favorite menu item is a maple cortado, complete with maple syrup espresso and a dash of half and half. Just like most local students, he frequently orders an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel. 

Another perk of Recess is the central location in the Westcott neighborhood. After grabbing a coffee, students can enjoy the public art and/or shop at the various businesses the neighborhood has to offer. From brunch at Rise and Shine to thrifting at Boom Babies Vintage, Recess’ convenient location is ideal for a leisurely stroll between classes.

Recess’ efforts to engage the community has allowed the business to grow and maintain its coffee fanbase. Most recently, Recess had the chance to introduce their fall menu at the Westcott Cultural Street Fair in early October. Some of the fall items include pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider and pumpkin-maple muffins.

Recess Coffee is located at 110 Harvard Place in the Westcott neighborhood. The cafe is open Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Dunkin’ Donuts

There are ample opportunities to fulfill your coffee fix with two Dunkin’ locations near campus: one on South Crouse Avenue near Marshall Street and one in the Schine Student Center.

One Dunkin barista noted that the caramel swirl iced coffee is the most popular order. Lindsay Bisk, a sophomore advertising student and loyal Dunkin’ customer, said she “orders a caramel swirl iced coffee every day.”

Another Dunkin’ barista added that the location “serves more medium iced coffees than anything around.” Breakfast sandwiches are the most popular food order from the students, particularly the bacon or sausage egg and cheese. 

Students note that the Schine location typically has a longer line than the store on South Crouse Avenue. Sophomore graphic design student Livi Dublin said she prefers Dunkin because of their reward system, Dunkin Rewards.

“This month they are offering free coffee on Monday. Every order helps to add points which lead to a future free drink,” Dublin said. 

The Dunkin Donuts located at 746 S Crouse Avenue is open Monday through Friday, Monday, 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. The on-campus Dunkin located on the second floor of Schine is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tous de Jours

This Syracuse staple often goes unnoticed. Tous de Jours is only an eight-minute drive from campus and makes freshly baked pastries daily. They are known for their myriad of croissant options, ranging from strawberry, almond, chocolate and cheese.

With Halloween coming up, Tous Les Jours has a special menu that features cakes decorated as monsters, mummies and ghosts. SU students are known for ordering either their hazelnut or vanilla lattes accompanied by a pastry, said Zion, a barista at Tous Les Jours.

“I grew up in Syracuse and have been going to Tous Les Jours for a while—I love introducing my friends to their coffee,” Kate Welder, an education student said. “They are always so impressed and shocked because they would have never known about it.”  

The cafe has a French upscale atmosphere, which works well to accompany their special recipes. Tous may be a franchise, but customers would never know by the look of the unique restaurant. 

Tous de Jours is located at 2743 Erie Blvd. The cafe is open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Salt City Coffee

Salt City Coffee is the closest replacement to Starbucks, proximity-wise. Located on University Avenue, this cafe is known for its unique menu of crafted coffees—from their caramel shaken “Cuselandia Latte” to their cinnamon and vanilla “Valencia Cold Brew” which they keep on tap. Salt City has a smaller menu, consisting of bagels, avocado toast and pastries.   

Zoey Seitzman, ambassador for the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life, often takes students to Salt City as complimentary dates to teach them more about the Hillel program. Due to this, Seitzman sees everyone’s orders.  

“The most common combination of food and drinks would definitely be a chocolate chip cookie paired with the Valencia Cold Brew,” Seitzman said. “The Valencia is just easy because it is on tap, so you can get it quickly and all of their pastries are an amazing add-on.”  

Salt City also specializes in cereal-milk infused lattes which are also a hit amongst their customers. Plus, there’s great seating, which students can utilize to study and do homework (or go shopping at 3fifteen, a popular thrift store amongst SU students, afterward). 

The closest Salt City Coffee is located at 720 University Ave. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Peaks Coffee Company

Peak Coffee Company is located beneath the 505 on Walnut, a luxury student apartment complex known for housing SU upperclassmen.

Similar to Recess, Peaks is a community staple and often hosts engaging community events. Peaks hosts a Silent Book Club – a new take on the typical book club structure. The book club does not have reading assignments, but rather invites people to talk about any book they have been reading while hanging out and sipping Peaks’ signature coffee. 

Jenny Lee, a senior political science student, goes every morning over the weekends during her walks around campus. Lee recommends the breakfast burrito with avocado and tiramisu cold brew during the fall, as it is a limited-time item. In the winter, she orders a cappuccino.

Along with savory food options, Peaks also offers sweet treats including donuts, brownies, scones and their famous handheld blackberry pie. 

Peaks Coffee Co is located at 1200 East Genesee St near Syracuse University. The hours of operation are Wednesday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.